Malawi News Agency (Lilongwe)

Malawi: HIV Infections Reduced in Areas Where Treatment Has Scaled Up - Study

Research findings by Medicins Sans Frontiers (MSF) have revealed that areas where treatment of HIV has scaled up have reduced levels of new HIV infections.

According to a press statement made available to Malawi News Agency (Mana), results of two new research findings that MSF presented at a Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Boston, USA, earlier this month revealed that there arereductions in new HIV infections in areas where treatment has been scaled up. "The first study was conducted in Chiradzulu district which has an HIV prevalence of 17 per cent and where large scale roll out of ART by the Ministry of Health and MSF began in 2001," reads part of the press release.

It further says the level of new infections in Chiradzulu district were as low as 0.4 per cent showing that efforts of rolling out antiretroviral therapy (ART) widely, decentralizing treatment to community levels and task shifting has been successful in reducing HIV incidences. "Two-thirds of people living with HIV in our study have what is considered 'undetectable' HIV and are practically not at risk of transmitting the virus--it's phenomenal to see it's feasible to reach these levels in such resource-limited settings," said Dr. David Maman, lead researcher of the Malawi study.

The research findings are great news for PLHIV not only in Chiradzulu, but also wherever ART is made accessible on a large scale. In December last year, UNAIDS Country Coordinator for Malawi Amakobe Sande also announced that people living with HIV who are on treatment have lesser chances of transmitting the virus to their unprotected partners by 96 percent.

According to the press statement a similar study with similar findings was conducted in the Kwa Zulu Natal province in South Africa.

MSF is an international humanitarian organization, providing medical aid and emergency relief to people in more than 65 countries. Currently, the organization supports the provision of ART to more than 280, 000 people in over 20 countries. In Malawi, MSF has been supporting Malawi since 1987 and is working in Chiradzulu, Thyolo and Nsanje districts.

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