The landscape analysis which Association Against AIDS (JournAIDS) conducted on Sexually Transmitted Infections shows that there is a need to drive attention on STI’s because they have been neglected for a long time now.
JournAIDS Programs Manager Dingaan Mithi told journalists on Tuesday in Lilongwe that JournAIDS secured a small grant from AVAC through it’s new STI program in August, 2023 to have a deeper understanding on the STI landscape in Malawi which focused on Chlamydia , Gonorrhea, Hepatitis B, Helpes Simplex Virus (HSV), Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Syphilis and Trichomoniasis.
Mithi said that their findings have shown that Sexually Transmitted Infections are widespread, remain difficult to prevent, and can have severe health consequences but the development of new technologies such as vaccines and diagnostics could invigorate efforts to address the global problem of STIs, and the scientific evidence suggests that these breakthroughs are possible.
He, however, said that less is known about the needs and capacity to include STI advocacy into existing and new programs across East and Southern Africa.
“Ending sexually transmitted infection epidemics in Malawi as public health concerns by 2030 will require a massive reduction in new infections, supported by efforts to vastly scale up primary prevention and increase access to screening for sexually transmitted infections, increase awareness of the public health impact of sexually transmitted infections, and secure adequate funding.
“For now, research and development is critical in tackling STIs in Malawi and develop new STI specific policies effectively implemented,” he explained.
He then added that Community-led interventions are needed to provide information on STIs, prevention education, unlimited access to male and female condoms, and referral for diagnosis and treatment, especially in low-resource areas lacking access to comprehensive primary health care.
He also said that all Sexual Reproductive Health services, including family planning, should take into account the risk for STIs and HIV when providing information, treatment and contraceptive choices.
He went to say that Adolescents, especially girls, need universal access to SRH services, including HIV and STI screening, counseling and treatment or referral and comprehensive services need to be respectful of their right to privacy, to confidentiality and to make their own decisions free from coercion.
Comprehensive sexuality education including in schools can play a much greater role in educating youth about the health risks of asymptomatic and symptomatic infections for both adolescent boys and girls”,he further stressed.
From 2020 to 2021 reported U.S. Syphilis cased increased from 133,954 to 176,713 with 32 percent increase.