By Yamikani Yapuwa/MANA
Chinyama Health Centre in Mulanje has registered strides in numbers of youth between 15 and 24 seeking HIV testing services with close to 450 accessing the service in February and March this year.
Chinyama Health Centre Nursing and Midwife Technician, Fanny Kambowa disclosed this during an engagement meeting where various community groups who are working under the Action for Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) Project by Youth Net and Counselling (YONECO) in the area of Sub T/A Tombondiya met to do a post-mortem on their successes and setbacks.
“In February, 227 girls and boys in the age range of 15-24 came for HIV testing and none was found positive while in March 221 girls and boys of the same age range sought HIV testing with only one young woman being found reactive.
“Out of these numbers, girls and young women were the ones dominating as compared to boys and young men.
“We attribute this trend to the increased awareness and advocacy that is being done in the AGWY project by YONECO as it is encouraging the youth especially the girls and young women to protect themselves from HIV and Aids through seeking Sexual and Reproduction Health services as well as HIV testing at Youth Friendly Health section,” said Kambowa.
Kambowa added that the health centre has also registered a decline in pregnancies among girls who are 15 to 24 in the same two months.
“In February, 56 girls of the above age blanket came to start their initial ante-natal while in March, 32 girls came to start meaning that the number is decreasing.
“With the help of YONECO, we have been able to reach out to more youth in areas that are far from the health centre with youth friendly services like family planning methods distribution and we are hopeful that the numbers will continue to drop in the months to come,” she added.
YONECO Executive Director, Mc Bain Mkandawire said the organisation is delighted with the impact the project has brought in the lives of adolescent girls and young women in the district.
“We have managed to empower adolescent girls and young women to protect themselves from HIV infection which is a great achievement,” said Mkandawire.
Mkandawire said the organisation is optimistic that if the trend continues, Mulanje will be able to overturn its HIV prevalence rate which is at 20.6 percent against national prevalence rate of 9.1 percent.
The Comprehensive Action for Adolescent Girls and Young Women project is being implemented with funding from Action Aid through Christian Aid.