9 July 2013

Malawi: National HIV/Aids Prevalence Rate Drops to 10.6 Percent

A recent survey conducted by National AIDS Commission (NAC) in conjunction with the Department of Nutrition and HIV/AIDS in the Office of the President and Cabinet has revealed that the national prevalence rate of HIV and AIDS has dropped from 11.4 per cent in 2008 to 10.6 per cent this year (2013).

According to the document "The Status of HIV/AIDS Profile in Malawi" made available to Malawi News Agency (Mana), in the past years, about 80,000 people were tested HIV positive per year compared to this year (2013) when 40,000 to 50,000 people tested positive.

The data suggest that HIV incidences have declined due to better understanding and use of HIV/AIDS messages among the people, like abstinence and consistent use of condoms, among others.

However, the document has shown that the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is still higher among women, especially those with secondary education and above who are at 16.3 per cent.

Those women with primary education and below are said to have the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate at 14.1 per cent.

The document further indicates that HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is still high in Southern region at 14.5 per cent against 7.6 per cent for Central Region and 6.6 percent for Northern Region.

Commenting on the development, the Assistant Director of Health and Social Services for Mzuzu City Council, Felix Namakhuwa, welcomed the news in an interview on Monday, saying dropping of HIV/ AIDS prevalence rate is good news to any country in the world.

"It is good news indeed, you remember when Uganda reached 6 per cent prevalence rate, it was news all over.

"It has to start with districts, regions and there after the prevalence rate for the entire nation drops," said Namakhuwa.

He attributed the drop in prevalence rate in the region (North) from 9 per cent last year (2012) to 6.6 per cent this year (2013) to behavioural change and that people now understand and make good use of the messages about the pandemic.

However, Namakhuwa was quick to warn people against complacency, observing that there was still more to be done to combat the pandemic in the country.

The City official, therefore, appealed to all stakeholders in Northern Region and the entire Malawi Nation for concerted efforts and more creativity in innovations that would further reduce the HIV and AIDS prevalence.

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