Malawi: HIV Treatment Defaulters to Face the Law

Zomba — Chief of Health Services in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Charles Mwansambo says HIV treatment defaulters, people who provide inaccurate information, and those who discourage people from taking ARVs will be convicted under the new 2018 HIV and Aids Prevention and Management Act.

Dr. Charles Mwansambo disclosed this on Sunday at Nasawa in Zomba during the 2019 International Aids Candlelight Memorial where he said Malawi is making progress on HIV and Aids response despite defaults of the treatment by those on the therapy.

He said this was due to false claims by traditional healers that there is cure for HIV/AIDS.

"Let me warn those that are misguiding people on ART that we now have the HIV and Aids Prevention and Management Act for 2018, and with this Act, you shall be held accountable by the court," said Dr. Mwansambo.

He, therefore, called on people on antiretroviral drugs to abide by the HIV treatment so that government and donor investment in HIV and Aids response is effective.

MANET plus board chair, Dr. Gladstone Kachale said enactment of the 2018 National HIV and Aids Prevention and Management and introduction of new antiretroviral drugs are some of the commendable efforts registered in the HIV and Aids response.

He then acknowledged President Peter Mutharika's nomination as Global Fund Ambassador on HIV and AIDS as crucial in the scourge's response.

Dr. Kachale, however, noted that most community based HIV and AIDS response structures in the country do not receive financial support to effectively respond to HIV and AIDS at community level.

In his remarks, National Aids Commission (NAC) board chairperson, Jones Chikoko Nkhoma pledged that the commission would continue its leadership role in coordinating HIV and AIDS response in Malawi.

He, however, noted that discrimination against people living with HIV and risky normative behaviour, like unprotected sex in the name of cultural practice, remain a challenge.

"Anyone disrespecting rights of people with HIV and AIDS is committing an offence," the NAC board chairperson added.

International Aids Candle light Memorial is held annually to remember people who died due to HIV and AIDS. Malawi takes advantage of commemoration of this day to take stock of its national response to HIV and AIDS.

Malawi observed this year's International Aids Candlelight Memorial under the theme 'Intensifying the fight for health and rights'.

Out of one million people living with HIV in Malawi by March this year (2019), 810,245 people are on HIV treatment and that 90 per cent of them had their viral load suppressed, thereby reducing the risk of transmission.

The function was among other activities marked by interdenominational prayers, displays by organizations through pavilions and lighting of candles in memory of those that died due to HIV and AIDS since the first case was discovered in Malawi in 1985.

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