Malawi cops second to sex workers in HIV infection rate -survey

A recent survey conducted by Germany aid agency Organisation for International Cooperation-GIZ has revealed that Malawi Police Service in the Northern Region is the highly affected by HIV/AIDS pandemic second to sex workers.

The survey has also revealed that the most affected officers are female officers.

The infection rate among female officers is at 32.5 per cent while among male officers the rate is at 23.7 per cent.

The report sourced by this reporter, attributes this trend to the nature of police officers job as a factor that contributes to the spread of the pandemic within the department.

“Following the statistics of our report, it shows that the Malawi Police Service is second to female sex-workers who are currently at 70.7 per cent,” reads the part of a report.

The GIZ report has also exposed that the department of Police in the region is topping-up the list of all government departments in the region on HIV/AIDS prevalence rate seconded by male primary school teachers who are at 23.5 per cent.

Commenting on the report, the Northern Region AIDS Coordinator for Malawi Police Service, Assistant Superintendent Monica Munthali described the findings of the report released by GIZ as accurate.

However, she was quick to add that the high prevalence figure among female officers is high due to the fact that most of the male officers shun VCT services.

“It is true that the female police officers have higher percentage of HIV/AIDS prevalence rate, but had it been the male police officers too were going for voluntary testing and counselling as the female police officers does, the figures could have been different,” said Munthali.

She further said even though on paper it shows that the female police officers are highly affected by the pandemic, but the male officers have got high death rate than their female counterparts because they do not know their HIV/AIDS status.

Following this development, Munthali has disclosed that her office is to embark on sensitization campaign among police officers to go for voluntary counselling and testing-VCT as well as, male medical circumcision in order to reduce the infection rate.

She also said currently her office with funding from UNFPA is working hand in hand with the Pakachere Institute, in sensitizing the officers and their spouses on the dangers of multiple concurrent partnerships and their (multiple concurrent partnerships) impact on HIV/AIDS.

According to Munthali, the death rate caused by HIV/AIDS related diseases among police officers for the past four years was at 55 per cent, but the number has dramatically reduced to 33 percent which she said was the result of different interventions adopted by the Service in curbing the pandemic.

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