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Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Let’s stem cases of HIV infection

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The social impact of HIV and Aids is profound. In Malawi, for example, the pandemic has ravaged a generation of a productive adult age group, left over a million children orphaned and continues to impact several sectors of the economy.

At the micro-economic level, HIV has placed a strain on food security, household earnings and ability to cope due to adult morbidity and mortality related to HIV and Aids. The Ministry of Health indicates that, when a family member is infected with HIV, household income declines by as much as 40 to 60 percent.

However, many sectors in the country do not openly talk about their sad stories. It is not so often that we hear about how the pandemic has destroyed the hopes and dreams of the institutions workforce and how much of a strain it has become on their productivity.

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So, we thank the Malawi Police Service (MPS) for admitting that the pandemic continues to ravage the police service. Among other factors, we understand that some officers have too many sexual partners while others engage in alcohol and drug abuse, hence the high prevalence rate.

In 2013, the German Aid Agency for International Cooperation – GIZ– said the HIV prevalence rate among police officers in the Northern Region was second only to sex workers. A survey recently conducted by MPS revealed that 22.5 percent of female police officers and 16.4 percent of male officers are living positively. This is higher than the national HIV prevalence rate, which stands at 12.6 percent, down from around 18 percent, according to the National Aids Commission.

At a time cases of HIV infection are declining nationally, it is disheartening that the figures are on the higher side when it comes to our law enforcers. But what is worrying us more is the impact all this has on national security. The more officers die, the more MPS digs deeper into its coffers, in terms of funeral costs as well as employment costs since the departed ones have to be replaced.

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This is the reason we are worried and ask MPS, with the support of the government and other stakeholders, to move quickly and influence behaviour change in the police service.

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