NGO decries discrimination against HIV-positive people in Malawi

Executive director of Global Hope Mobilisation (GHM) Caleb Thole has expressed concern over discrimination against people living with HIV and Aids.

Thole was speaking recently at Chididi Primary School in Senior Chief Malengachanzi in Nkhotakota during an outreach meeting with young people who were showcasing their HIV and Aids interventions after being trained by the organisation.

He said because of discrimination, some people are reluctant to go for HIV testing and counselling (HTC) for fear of being ostracised if they are diagnosed with the virus.

“I would, therefore, like to call upon Nkhotakota district council, Nkhotakota district health office and village heads to find ways of dealing with the problem. For example, village heads could spearhead the process of establishing by-laws to fight discrimination against people living with HIV,” said Thole.

He said his organisation, with funding from UNAids, trained 20 young people in the district to fight discrimination, ensure that ARVs are available in health facilities and deal with cultural factors that fuel the spread of HIV.

“It was just a four-month pilot project, but its achievements have surpassed our expectations because the trained youths have reached out to 10 200 youths and 4 200 young people have gone for HTC.

“Based on the lessons drawn from the district, the project will expand to five years in five districts of Nkhotakota, Salima, Mangochi, Mzimba and Nkhata Bay,” said Thole.

Director of planning and development for Nkhotakota Justine Kathumba hailed the organisation for the project.

“We are happy that you have chosen to work with the youths and you have trained them on leadership in HIV response and management,” said Kathumba.

UNAids Malawi community mobilisation and network advisor Aurelie Andriamialison said Malawi needs to recognise that 30 years into the Aids epidemic, stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV are still pervasive.

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