Malawi to launch HIV+ youths’ association

Malawi, in collaboration with concerned organisations, will on May 2, 2014 hold an official launch of the National Association of Young People Living with HIV in Malawi (YPLHIV).

The launch is expected to be presided over by President Joyce Banda who is also Minister responsible for People Living with HIV and AIDS.

This follows the President’s directive which was made during the first meeting of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) and Lancet Commission which was held in Lilongwe from 28 to 29 June 2013 on the need for the formation of the Association.HIV

Breaking the news about the launch in Lilongwe, representative for Malawian youths living with the virus, David Nyirenda, 24, who was also present when the President had made the directive, said the Association would help create a formal platform where affected young Malawians would reveal the challenges they faced and hopefully receive the support they needed.

He said; “As young people living with the virus, we encounter a number of challenges especially in terms of lack of meaningful involvement in decision making, development activities and lack of educational support hence, the platform will hopefully help address these problems by formally attracting those who can accordingly help.”

He also highlighted stigma and discrimination as one area of serious concern where those discovered to be living with the virus were sidelined by their families, community members and friends at school.

Commenting on stigmatization, Programmes Manager for Malawi Network of People Living with HIV (MANET+), Eddie Banda, said “A stigmatisation index conducted by MANET+ in 2010 revealed that young people living with the virus were being left out which stresses the need for this Association.”

Another challenge revealed at the briefing was lack of proper nutritional support which is vital in boosting immunity to those infected.

Responding to this, Marriam Mangochi who is Director of HIV and AIDS in the Department of Nutrition HIV and AIDS, said government would work hard in collaboration with relevant organisations to make sure the youths’ welfare was looked into.

“As a department, we pledge full support and we will work hand-in-hand with MANET+, National Aids Commission (NAC) and all concerned groups to make sure we reach out to as many young ones as possible,” said Nyirenda.

The launch will be held at Mbabzi Primary School Ground in Traditional Authority Njewa in Lilongwe and will be under the theme “Making the Three Zeros Work for Young People Living with HIV and AIDS in Malawi.

In attendance will be six representatives of young Malawians living with the virus from each district in the country, according to NAC Director of Programmes, Tione Chilambe.

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