Malawi set for another HIV testing week from August 6

Malawi will from August 6 this year have HIV and AIDS Testing and Counseling (HTC) week after a three year break.

The HTC week was once held in 2006, 2007 and 2008 where many challenges were encountered. They stopped for evaluation and to see the way forward.

Deputy Director of Ministry of Health (MoH) in the HIV and AIDS department, Dr. Austin Mnthambala said the problems that were there in the past have been sorted out hence the resumption of HTC this year.

“We had challenges like periodic stock outs of the test kits, inadequate infrastructure for HTC service provision in some districts.

“Additionally, inadequate and uneven distribution of existing HTC sites with wide gaps in level of access across the country hindered the HTC. I assure Malawians that those problems have been taken care of,” said Mnthambala.

A sign promoting HIV testing

He also said partners have assured MoH for their full support during the campaign.

Mnthambala also explained that MoH in collaboration with the partners would make it a point to strengthen the supply management of test kits to avoid repeating the same mistake.

“Some development partners have assured us their commitment to work with us,” he said while urging the youths to voluntarily take part in the exercise.

The launch

The proposed dates for the HTC campaign are from 6 August to 10 August, 2012 while the launch of the same will be held on August 4, 2012 at Makawa Primary School in Mangochi where the Minister of Health who is also Vice President, Khumbo Kachali will preside over the function.

Some of the development partners, among others, include National Aids Commission (NAC) United Nations for Children Fund (UNICEF).

The main aim of having the HTC week is to seek some behavior change among people and also to remove the fears that people have when it comes to HIV and AIDS testing.

It is also regarded as an entry point for HIV prevention packages and other services such as Male circumcision, anti retroviral drugs as well as prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) services.

Malawi’s first case of HIV was identified in 1985, and by 2005 the country had 930,000 people living with the virus, nine percent of whom were children below 14 years of age.

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