Mangochi District Coordinator for Teachers Living Positively (Tilipo) Noel Nzunga has said the introduction of the support group has contributed to the improvement of lives of teachers living with HIV in the district.
He made the observation recently at Mpilipili Teachers Development Centre in Traditional Authority Makanjira in Mangochi during an open day organised by Tilipo.
Nzunga said prior to the introduction of the intervention in 2007, there were a lot of deaths and absenteeism among teachers due to HIV-related illnesses.
“Before Tilipo came into being, we were registering a lot of deaths among teachers due to HIV and Aids-related complications. That has completely changed now,” he said.
Nzunga, who is also School Health and Nutrition Coordinator, said illnesses and resultant deaths were heavily impacting on the education sector, a trend which has since changed.
Currently, 84 teachers are registered to the group.
Other than just encouraging each other as teachers to live positively, the teachers in the group also provide support to learners who have declared their status and go to homecare centres within their school catchment area to offer psychosocial care.
Ti l ipo Chai rperson in Mangochi MacPeter Nazombe said there were many teachers who have not yet come out to disclose their HIV status.
He said Mangochi has 3,651 teachers with only 98 has disclosed their HIV status.
“As Tilipo, we know that there are many teachers who are hiding and do not want to disclose their status which increases chances of self-stigma and discrimination,” Nazombe said.
He appealed to head teachers in various schools who have the behaviour of ill-treating teachers who have openly disclosed their HIV status to stop the conduct forthwith, warning that such a malpractice may attract a disciplinary action by those in authority.
Group Village Head Makanjira said while teachers were encouraged to disclose their HIV status, the message should also go to all Malawians.
“The first step to fighting HIV and Aids is by going to HTC so that when one knows their status they can make informed decisions,” he said.
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