Persons living with HIV in Chikhwawa district have faulted traditional leaders for not considering them when it comes to relief food items.
The revelations came when the district held World Aids Day commemoration at Tomali Primary School Ground under Paramount Chief Lundu in the district.
According to the testimonies by Aaron Chambaira and Stella Dosani during the event, most village heads do not consider people living with HIV/AIDS when it comes to distribution of relief food items.
“We are living in isolation and we don’t feel comfortable when the authorities such as these start to discriminate us. We are people who lack several things in life and when this happens we are let down. They just discriminate us because they feel we cannot contribute to the development of the community, but we can,” said Dosani.
This did not go down well with the officials at the event who said the issues have been said time and again and needed not to continue adding that the people with HIV have rights just as anyone.
Member of Parliament for Chikhwawa Central Constituency, Honourable Zaheer Gaffar Issa, who was present at the event said discrimination against those living with HIV/AIDS was uncalled for and anyone involved in the malpractices must stop.
Said Issa: “It is very shocking to hear now that there are people who still hold on to old fashion of life by hating and discriminating those with HIV/AIDS. The relief food items or the Social Cash Transfers are meant to be accessed by the vulnerable such as these.
“Let me be straight that the chiefs involved in this must now start showing a sense of human. Treat all people equal regardless one’s status.”
On her part, Chikhwawa District Medical Officer Dr Winnie Mhone indicated the need for concerted efforts so that by the year 2020 the 90:90:90 targets are fulfilled.
Representative of the District Commissioner at the event, Maria Mchawa, called on the youths to go to school other than indulging themselves in premarital sex which she said would affect their lives negatively.
Mchawa added that it is the responsibility of the youth to go for HIV testing in order to know their status as a means of also preparing for their future.
The event which was commemorated under the theme “Hands up for HIV prevention – Focus on empowering young women and girls” was done with support from Illovo, Red Cross, Partners in Hope, Hunger Project, Chinansi Foundation, Centre for Development of People (CEDEP) and National Aids Commission (NAC).