The National Association for People Living with HIV and AIDS (NAPHAM) says the test and treat initiative is the only effective way of preventing opportunistic infections among HIV positive people.
Unlike in the past whereby people found HIV positive were not allowed to start receiving Anti-retroviral Therapy (ARV) until the CD4 cells of their immune system were attacked by the virus, NAPHAM says the test and treat is making strides as Malawi puts efforts to have an HIV free generation by 2030 as one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
NAPHAM Program Manager Paul Manyamba made the remarks during the closing ceremony of a four-day Youth Peer Educators workshop held at Paseri Lodge in Lunzu Township, Blantyre on Thursday.
Manyamba said the workshop was aimed at training the youths who will be civic educating peers about HIV/AIDS, encouraging them to go for HIV test, and telling them about the proper use of ARVs in order to live a positive life.
“We had a good workshop and we understand the youths we have trained will deliver the message to their peers in different Support Groups. They have learnt how to convince their friends know their HIV status, and right use of ARVs as well as reducing discrimination in their community. We are very impressed because our facilitators have tackled a number of topics.
“The workshop is in line with the country’s dream to have an HIV free generation particularly on the three 90s which say 90 percent must go for HIV test, 90 percent found HIV positive must be on treatment and the other 90 percent must have their virus deactivated,” said Manyamba.
On his part, NAPHAM Blantyre District Caretaker Davison Mkandawire said they have put in place strategic measures to ensure that the youths are able to reach their peers in a bid to achieve the desired goal.
“We are happy that the youths have proved that they have understood the message and we are very optimistic that they will educate their friends in the communities. These youths are coming from different support groups which will be easy to be monitored. We also understand that four days is not enough, they can easily forget, therefore we will be meeting them.
“For the past years, there have been many training opportunities targeting men and women but I commend the decision to train youths because it is easy to reach their peers,” he said.
NAPHAM was conducting the training in partnership with Plan International with funding from Comic Relief and their agreement on Youth Peer Education lasts for three years.
Comic Relief is a British charity founded in 1985 by the comedy scriptwriter Richard Curtis and Comedian Lenny Henry in response to famine in Ethiopia.