4 December 2018

Malawi: 1.1million People Living With HIV in Malawi - Muluzi Announces New Strategies to Reduce Infections

Minister of Health and Population Atupele Muluzi has disclosed that currently there are about 1.1 million people are living with HIV in Malawi.

Muluzi told Parliament in a ministerial statement that it is important that every individual makes a decision to test for HIV and know their HIV status.

"Mr Speaker, please allow me to inform this august House, that in 2018, Malawi has approximately 1.1million people living with HIV," said Muluzi.

He said by the end of September this year, the Ministry of Health has managed to get 796100 people on life prolonging ARV treatment and out of those on treatment 708 688 people are now "virally suppressed."

Said Muluzi: "This is real progress, but these numbers also highlight that we have yet to reach 100 000 people who have yet to understand their HIV status or be provided with treatment. To reach these people means being innovative with our testing strategies."

Muluzi said government of Malawi is working with development partners to implement a range of new strategies to reach these populations.

He said the innovative strategies include Provider Initiated Testing and Counselling (PITC), Index Case Testing that target sexual partners and children of HIV positive index clients, and HIV Self Testing, all to help people know their HIV status.

"We are also expanding test services into strategically targeted to workplaces, hot spots with high risk behaviours and places of entertainment.

"Strategies are also being developed to test breastfeeding women who get infected by their partners during the breastfeeding period to further prevent Mother to Child Transmission of HIV," he said.

Muluzi provided some basic information about HIV Self testing.

HIV self-testing is a process in which a person collects his or her own specimen of saliva from the mouth which is then added to the test kit for a result that takes just a few minutes. Malawi is only distributing self-test kits that are WHO accredited.

If the result is positive, the person should then seek a further test at one of the many test facilities to confirm the result. If the result of the self-test is negative, no further action is required unless the individual has had a recent HIV exposure or faces an ongoing high risk of HIV infection.

In these cases, repeat testing should be considered after 3 months from potential exposure.

HIV, which stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a virus that damages the cells in the immune system which protects our bodies from fighting infection.

It is most commonly transmitted through sexual intercourse.

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is the name used to describe a number of potentially life-threatening infections and illnesses that happen when your immune system has been severely damaged by the virus.

People cannot get an Aids diagnosis unless they are HIV positive.

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