US commits to supporting HIV fight in Malawi

By Emmanuel Yokonia

The U.S. government says it is committed to providing financial resources to Malawi in order to create a HIV-free generation.

US Embassy deputy assistant secretary, Melanie Higgins said the US government has inverted over $1billion in HIV/AIDS programming in Malawi since 2013 through President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in a quest to fight the pandemic.

“Through this initiative 900, 000 people living with HIV are currently on anti-retroviral therapy, more than 570, 000 HIV-exposed children are HIV free due to programming to prevent mother to child transmission among others,” Higgins said.

She said PEPFAR has been crucial in saving a lot of lives in Malawi and extending the life span of those living with HIV.

Higgins said the US government will only stop it’s support to Malawi through PEPFAR when the country is free HIV.

She further encouraged young people who have been diagnosed HIV positive to come out to get needed assistance.

“Lusungu Hawara disclosed her HIV status that she lives with HIV and this is direction we need to take to curb this pandemic because through openness is when you live stress free,” Higgins said.

Lusungu Hawara said young people feel shy to disclose their HIV statuses afraid of facing discrimination and her life journey has been devastated.

“It was not that smooth journey but I have defied all odds by rising above my health status with the hovering support from my health facility that PEPFAR in collaboration with the Malawi government give us,” Hawara said.

Deputy Director for the Directorate of HIV, Hepatis and STIs in the Ministry of Health, Linley Chewere while recommending the US government for the PEPFAR programme, she also asked for collaboration responsibility to sensitize the young people because statistics show that adolescents have high HIV prevalence rate in the country.

Chewere attributed the high prevalence rate among adolescents to lack of willingness to go for testing and parental guidance on issues of HIV/AIDS.

She however said malawi government is going towards the right direction in curbing the pandemic by 2030.

“We engage communities so that they take a lead in issues of HIV/AIDS. We have community health facility which ease the accessibility of ARVs,” Chewere said.

The PEPFAR was launched in 2003 by US government to combat global AIDS, and it was introduced in Malawi in 2006.

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