People living at Cape Maclear in Mangochi have demonstrated that they are brave enough to know their HIV status and have since applauded the district council for staging the commemoration of World Aids Day in the area, saying it gave them an opportunity to get crucial messages on combating the scourge.
Speaking in an interview with the Malawi News Agency on the sidelines of the commemoration of this year’s World Aids Day at Cape Maclear in the area of Senior Chief Nankumba in Mangochi, HIV/Aids and Nutrition Coordinator for Mangochi, Ernest Kadzokoya said the council was pleased with the conduct of people in the area who do not shun HIV testing.
Kadzokoya said people were willing to go for HIV testing because they have adequate information and were counseled on positive living, noting that 30 people who were tested during the commemoration were found to be non reactive.
We need to join hands with government to achieve the set target by UINAIDS of 90 90 90 which requires that 90 percent of the population should get tested, 90 percent diagnosed should start treatment immediately and that 90 percent of those on treatment should not die of HIV and Aids related illnesses, he said.
Kadzokoya said it is the wish of government to ensure all those who are on antiretroviral treatment have their viral load suppressed by 2020 with the goal of ending HIV epidemic by 2030.
The coordinator said considering that HIV affects every sector of the economy, it was imperative that efforts of combating the spread were concerted by among other things encouraging people to know their sero status.
Government cannot administer ARVs to someone who has not taken a step to know his or her status because the treatment is only given to those who are HIV positive for free, Kadzokoya added.
Councilor for Monkey Bay Ward, Chimkwita Bulirani said people of Cape Maclear were grateful to the council for considering the area to host the event to commemorate the Aids Day, noting that it would leave long lasting impact on residents of the area.
This event has empowered people with knowledge on how to effectively fight against HIV and live a positive life if found HIV reactive, Bulirani said.
Cape Maclear is a tourist attraction area where tourists spend their holidays especially during the festive season like this one. A lot of women are attracted by them and ignore the fact that some of them may be HIV positive, observed Bulirani.
Bulirani, however, said cultural practices which were common around the area also affect people’s lives negatively.
Cultural practices like kulowakufa have to be modified because it is very hard to know what caused the death of your relative and by marrying the wife you may be infected with HIV and Aids if the other partner is positive, he pointed out.
On this note, Bulirani urged people in the area to join community based organizations found in their local areas in a bid to share ideas on how to deal with HIV and Aids at community level.
Source: Malawi News Agency � MANA