MANET+ bemoans HIV stigma fuelled divorces amongst discordant couples

The Malawi Network of people living with HIV/Aids (MANET+) is concerned with the high rate of divorce in families where one partner is HIV positive saying such acts are a result of stigma and discrimination in the communities.

Research and Advocacy Officer for MANET+ George Kampango disclosed this last Thursday in Rumphi where the organisation was introducing a three year Equitable Access to Treatment, Care and Support to People living with HIV/Aids project to the District Executive Committee (DEC) members comprising heads of department in the district.

He said stigma and discrimination is a catalyst for different illnesses for those who are HIV positive in the society.

“As MANET+, we believe the end to these social ills will assist in the fight against HIV and proper care, treatment and support for those who are infected,” Kampango told the heads of department.

Kampango said increase in cases of divorce based on HIV status clearly indicates that stigma and discrimination is still dominant in communities.

“We are advocating for an end to stigma and discrimination so that people particularly women and girls realise their rights and freedoms,” he emphasized.

The Equitable Access to Treatment, Care and Support to People living with HIV/Aids project is being implemented in Thyolo, Mangochi, Ntchisi, Kasungu, Mzimba and Rumphi and it aims at empowering women and girls to have equal representation and participation in community programmes.

The project funded by Oxfam is coordinated by MANET+, a grouping of six national organisations for people living with HIV/Aids and it will phase out in January 2015. In Rumphi the project willbe implemented in the areas of Chief Katumbi and Mwamlowe in the district and the total funding for all the districts is close to K98 million.

Rumphi District Coordinator for the National Association for People Living with HIV and Aids in Malawi (NAPHAM) Charity Mwafulirwa said issues of divorce are pertinent in the district especially in families where the woman is HIV positive.

“What we know is that Stigma and discrimination is still there between partners in some families and this is even restraining some women from disclosing their sero status,” Mwafulirwa said.

The Director of Planning and Development for Rumphi District Council, Frank Mkandawire hailed MANET+ from launching the project in Rumphi, saying it will contribute to eliminating stigma and discrimination in the district as government is geared towards achieving zero discrimination and zero infection in combating the disease.

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