A new study on Malawi has revealed that the country’s goal of ending the Aids epidemic by 2030 is within reach owing to an effective national HIV programme.
The study, conducted between 2015 and 2016 across the country by Ministry of Health in collaboration with the United States Government through the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is called Malawi Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (MPHIA).
However, the study has warned that this can only be achieved if government continues with its expansion of HIV treatment programmes and targeted HIV testing, especially for men and young women.
In a joint statement dated December 2 2016, the two governments have observed that although the results are encouraging for the national HIV programme, there remains important work to be done.
“Among adults with HIV, the higher prevalence of viral suppression among women [72.9 percent] than men [58.6 percent] indicates we need to renew efforts to reach men with HIV testing and treatment services.
“In addition, among 15-24 year olds, only 51.9 percent of women and 36.7 percent of men have their HIV suppressed or under control. This calls for concerted efforts to improve prevention and treatment services for young adults in Malawi,” reads the statement.
Among the key findings, the results show that among the ages 15-64 living with HIV, 67.6 percent have a suppressed viral load (less than 1 000 copies of virus per millilitre of blood) with a higher percentage of women achieving viral suppression than men.
This means that in about three quarters of women and over half of men, the HIV virus is under control, reflecting the success of the HIV testing and treatment programme in Malawi.
However, the findings also show that HIV prevalence among 15-49 year olds is higher among women at 12.4 percent than men who are at 7.5 percent.
The annual HIV incidence among people aged between 15 and 64 is estimated at 0.37 percent, 0.48 percent among women and 0.25 percent among men. This equates to 28 000 new infections per year among 15 to 64 year olds.
Commenting on the development, health rights activist Maziko Matemba described the findings as encouraging although he expressed worry with the high prevalence among women. n