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HIV hits females hard

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As Malawi joins the rest of the world in commemorating World Aids Day today, new data on HIV infections indicates that about 28 percent of new HIV infections are registered among girls aged between 14 and 24 years.

This is attributable to social, cultural and economic factors

Speaking at a press conference Tuesday, Health Deputy Minister Chrissy Kalamula Kanyasho said adolescent girls were more vulnerable to HIV than males.

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“As one way of preventing further cases of infection, the Ministry of Health, in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, has embarked on a project that will culminate in hostels being constructed for girls that cover long distances to school,” she said.

This year’s event is being commemorated under the theme ‘End Inequalities: End Pandemics’.

Meanwhile, Malawi Network of Aids Service Organisations Executive Director Jones Chimpokosa has said there is a need for civil society organisations and government officials to work together to address HIV and Aids-related challenges.

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In a related development, the Ministry of Health has, in its 2021 epidemiological estimates for HIV and Aids for Malawi, indicated that cases of Aids-related deaths have gone down from 32,000 in 2010 to 10,800 in 2021.

The estimates further indicate that 28 percent of the new infections are occurring among the youth aged between 15 and 24 years.

In terms of figures, by June 2021, a total of 955,435 people living with HIV knew their HIV positive status.

Out of these, 878,232 people were alive and on the life-prolonging ARVs, of whom 825,538 had their viral load successfully suppressed.

Commenting on the strides the country has made, Medical Doctors Society of Malawi President Victor Mithi said the trajectory was promising.

“You might wish to remember that people were dying every day and scarcity of ARVs was the order of the day. But now people are living a near-normal life. Women are able to give birth to children without infecting them with HIV. Right now, we have actually developed drugs that can be taken once in every six months. It’s only worrisome that more youths are being infected,” he said.

However, Mithi ruled out the possibility that the country could achieve the 2030 target in which the country has committed to eradicate the pandemic in its entirety.

Adding his voice, Malawi Equity Health Network Executive Director George Jobe said the government should make sure that community-based organisations were properly financed.

This year’s commemorations will be held at Bumba Primary School Ground in Rumphi District.

World AIDS Day has been designated on December 1 every year since 1988 and is an international day set aside to raise awareness on the HIV and Aids epidemic as well as to remember those that have died from Aids-related illnesses.

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