By Llywellenie Mpasa:
The Ministry of Health (MoH) has said Malawi has achieved HIV epidemic control after scaling up quality testing, care and treatment, retention and suppression efforts.
Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, who visited hotspots and high-risk populations in Blantyre, touted voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC), use of pre-exposure prophylaxis and condom use as some of the factors that have put Malawi on the road to victory.
Speaking at the end of the tour in Limbe, she said strategies that have been put in place to wave off HIV had culminated in reduced cases of HIV infection, while those who are living positively are living healthy lives because their viral loads were suppressed.
She, however, said HIV and Aids remained a challenge to the attainment of Malawi’s development goals.
“HIV and Aids are still a public health threat and, as such, we are giving them [HIV and Aids] all the needed attention. We, as a ministry, have met our 90- 90-90 ambitious treatment target set by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids to help end the Aids epidemic.
“However, we are still lacking in some high-prevalence areas, notably Blantyre City, which has registered a high HIV/ Aids prevalence rate, at 14 percent, against the national average prevalence of eight percent,” Kandodo Chiponda said.
Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric Aids Foundation Country Director Veena Sampathkumar decried HIV prevalence rates in hotspots.
She said her organisation was supporting Blantyre District Health Office with resources for HIV services in over 50 clinics in terms of prevention, care and treatment, including supporting preventing new infections of HIV.
Population Services International (PSI) Malawi Country Representative Jephta Mtema said his organisation was scaling-up VMMC, through demand creation, as an essential strategy for a sustained impact on the Aids epidemic, enhancing demand creation through innovative advocacy and communication approaches to medical circumcision.
“Between 2013 and 2021, PSI/Malawi has achieved 38,000 circumcision procedures in Limbe alone, reducing the risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, by 60 percent,” Mtema said.