About 42 000 people continue contracting HIV, a virus that causes AIDS every year in Malawi, translating into about five people every hour.
This, however, is a 38.1 percent decrease from 68 000 new infections per year recorded in 2009.
Speaking during commemoration of World AIDS Day at Chisitu Ground in Mulanje Tuesday, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) country director, Amakobe Sande, commended Malawi for efforts in the HIV response, but said concerted efforts are still required to further reduce the infection rate.
Sande added that Malawi loses about 33 000 people to AIDS-related deaths every year, translating to about 90 deaths every day, saying, majority of them are men.
She said: “There is no reason why Malawi cannot push further and eliminate mother to child transmission of HIV.
“With the favourable legislative environment we now have in place, we need to seriously address the fact that the highest infections are occurring among young women and girls.”
She noted that Malawi may not effectively deal with the epidemic if there are groups of people that are too frightened for HIV-related services because they are either stigmatised and discriminated against because of their HIV status, gender, sexual orientation, or their age.
Malawi recently adopted the ambitious global HIV treatment target of 90-90-90, to help end AIDS epidemic by 2030.
The programme calls to action the country to build a momentum to ensure that by 2020, 90 percent of people living with HIV will know their status, 90 of people diagnosed with HIV will receive Antiretroviral treatment (ART) and that 90 percent of people on treatment will have suppressed viral loads.
On his part, Dr Peter Kumpalume, Minister of Health expressed optimism that the programme will help the country in the HIV/AIDS response.
“Today, we reflect upon the suffering that HIV and AIDS caused to people in Malawi, to our families, communities and our nation. It also provides an opportunity to take stock of what e have achieved in tackling the epidemic, what our shortfalls have been and what steps we should take to continue the fight as a nation,” Kumpalume said.
During the event, a ‘Tree of Hope’ was planted at the site, as a symbol of hope for those infected and affected by the pandemic, and hope for the country in completely eliminating the disease.
The day was commemorated under the theme ‘Getting to Zero is possible with early HIV treatment. Act Now.’