HIV/AIDS deaths fall by 13000 as Malawi observes candle light memorial

The number of deaths attributed to the AIDS virus has declined in the country, according to Chief of Health Services in the Ministry of Health, Charles Mwansambo.

Mwansambo (l) and Khonyongwa at the news conference

Mwansambo said deaths that can be directly linked to HIV and Aids opportunistic infections have fallen significantly in recent years due to interventions such as test and treat and option B+.

He  said this  in Lilongwe  during a meetingin preparation for the candle light ceremony scheduled for Sunday July 21, 2019 aimed at remembering people who died of Aids.

Mwansambp said the interventions have led to a reduction of HIV and Aids related deaths from at least 64, 000 in 2005 to just over 12,000 quoting 2018 figures.

“Test and treat ensures that people who test positive to HIV are instantly put on antiretroviral therapy (ART) which reduces the risk of HIV related opportunistic infections which accounted for most deaths in the past.

“As a country, we have also managed to test 91 percent of those targeted for testing with 83 percent of that population put on ART,” he said.

He further said that such interventions have also reduced stigma against people living with HIV/Aids as they are now living healthy lives and one cannot separate an HIV positive person from a negative one just by looking at the way one looks.

However, Speaking at the same function Director of HIV and Aids Services at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Rose Nyirenda said most deaths being reported related to HIV/Aids are of men because they usually report for treatment at health facilities when it is too late. She said there was need to attract more men to get tested for HIVand access healthcare.

Malawi Network of People Living with HIV and Aids (MANET+), Executive Director, Lawrence Khonyongwa said although significant strides have been made in improving healthcare for people living with HIV, he was worried about the increase in new infections among young people.

He further called on all stakeholders to work together to address this challenge.
According to Ministry of Health data there are 1062000 people living with HIV in Malawi and at least 700000 of them are on ART.

This year’s candle light memorial will be held at Nasawa Technical College in Zomba. The event takes place on May every year to raise social consciousness about HIV and Aids, but was shifted due to general elections which were also conducted in May, 2019.

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