Authorities have expressed worry over resurgence of new HIV infections at a time the country started celebrating the progress it has made in eliminating the disease.
The new infections have been attributed to lack of knowledge on how people can prevent the spread of the virus.
Chairperson for Malawi Partnership Forum (MPF), Lawrence Khonyongwa, made the sentiments during the 66th session of MPF in Lilongwe, where he stressed the need for more sensitization campaign, especially in urban areas to reduce the rate of infection.
Khonyongwa disclosed that 17,000 new cases are being registered annually.
“Malawi is on track to end AIDS as a public Health threat by 2030. The country has registered tremendous gains in the response and the performance under the 2025 UNAIDS treatment targets, commonly known as 95:95:95, is quite commendable. As of March 2023, 94% of People Living with HIV had been diagnosed, 99% of this population had been initiated on ART and a resultant viral suppression rate of 94% was achieved.
“However, we still need to be vigilant not to leave anyone behind in the fight against the pandemic. During site visits, you will notice that a lot needs to happen in the cities, targeting certain populations such as the Key Populations and the youth. Targeting these sub- populations would help realiasing that dream of leaving no one behind,” he said.
UNAIDS Country Director, Nuha Ceesay, described the meeting as a right platform for stakeholders to come together and discuss the response to HIV and how they are working towards eliminating the pandemic.
“We are aware that there has been a progress in HIV response in Malawi, as you look at total number of infections in around 1992-95 where you have almost 70, 000 new infections annually and today we are talking about 15,000 infections, we therefore commend government for developing good strategies and policies that resulted into the country identifying specific areas what we can as game changers that has significantly contributed this achievement. So ending AIDS as a public health threat can be possible in the context of Malawi by 2030,” Ceesay said.
A man living with HIV and Aids from Kauma Township in Lilongwe, Job Chiligo, challenged those infected by the virus to come out in the open and declare their status.
“To those who are infected we have to take ARTs every now and then according to doctor’s prescription, then they will be alright because we have to take ARTs for life time. At our institution as a volunteer I make sure that when the client came, first thing I have to keep his confidentiality in a way that I don’t have to reveal whatsoever is between us because it’s there privacy, we have a challenge in the way people handled themselves as others stop taking ARTs in the process and they end up losing their lives,” Chiligo said.
MPF is a special session that allowed members to appreciate the HIV and AIDS programming in Lilongwe and this is important to members of MPF in fulfilling the advisory role to the National AIDS Commission (NAC).