As Malawi joins the rest of the world in commemorating World AIDS Day today, it has been established that poverty and sexual behaviour continue to be some of the main factors influencing the transmission of HIV in the country.
According to Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) of Catholic Church, through its press statement signed by its National Health Secretary, Bertha Magomero and Director of Social Development, Carsterns Mulume, HIV prevalence in Malawi is declining with new infections reducing from 55,000 in 2011 to 34,000 in 2013 and half of these infections are occurring among young people aged 15-24 years.
It explains that majority of people being infected are those who were previously considered to be at low risk like couples and partners in stable relationships.
“A number of factors influence the transmission of HIV in the country such as; sexual behavior factors like multiple concurrent partnerships, biological, social and physical inequalities between men and women which increase susceptibility of women and girls to HIV infection, and poverty which often leads to transactional sex,” says part of the statement.
However, ECM says in her efforts to meet the targets Malawi will require to re-focuse the HIV testing and counselling programme to address negative social norms regarding HIV testing, expansion of antiretroviral therapy (ART) services to balance the patient burden between sites and a concerted public education campaign to galvanize the population behind the 90-90-90 targets.
According to statistics, Malawi is among the countries worst affected by the HIV epidemic with an HIV prevalence of 10.6% in the 15-49 age group.