Malawi News Agency (Lilongwe)

29 June 2013

Malawi: HIV Positive Malawian Teenager Makes Impassioned Appeal for Zero Discrimination

Lilongwe — Young people living with HIV in the country have demanded for Zero discrimination, Zero new HIV infections and zero related cases of HIV if the country wants to fight the spread of HIV/Aids beyond 2015.

Speaking on Thursday during the launch of the first summit of UNAIDS/Lancet Commission at Bingu International Conference centre in Lilongwe, 19 year, Shireen Mvula said that discrimination of people living with HIV is still on the rise in the country.

The Young girl who was born with HIV cited the example of young girls who are at boarding schools and are being discriminated upon by their fellow students.

"There is still HIV stigma at all levels in the country, it all begins at our homes, schools and even the community. It is worse in schools where our fellow pupils stigmatize us even when teachers support us.

"It is even worse when in boarding schools, when our fellow pupils see you taking drugs everyday and you cannot explain to them why your taking drugs daily which forces the infected pupils to either stop taking drugs or even drop out of school," explained the emotional girl.

She said that apart from discrimination, People living with HIV are also facing the problem of body deformities as side effects of the ARV treatment which she said it is very easy for people to recognize them.

Mvula, however, thanked the President Dr. Joyce Banda for her initiative which has led to the transition from the old ARVs to the new and better improved ARV drugs which will roll out next month.

According to Mvula the Legacy of the Commission should be making new things especially for young people living with the virus, she urged the summit participants to read the Holy Bible New Testament, Revelation 21.

The young girl who has hopes of living forty years and having her own family believes that if the country has managed to reduce the cases of new HIV infections from 130, 000 to 50,000 then the battle against HIV can also be won.

She then thanked the president for her fight on Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) where a mother regardless of her CD4 count is put on treatment to give a chance to the unborn child to be HIV negative.

"Let me thank you Madam President for the love you have shown towards Women and the PMTCT by the introduction of B-Plus model where mothers regardless of their CD4 count are put on treatment," she said.

Mvula who sat for her Malawi School leaving Certificate of education (MSCE) expressed her desire to one day live without the virus and the disease, urging world researchers to be serious in finding the cure for the deadly disease.

The two day summit which will run from 28-29 June, was officially opened by the State President, Dr Joyce Banda where international Delegates like, Former President of Botswana, Festus Moghae, First Lady of Gabon, Madame Sylvia Bongo Ondimba and Executive Director of UNIAIDS, Michael Sidibe were in attendance.

The theme for the summit is from "Aids to Sustainable Health."

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