It’s been a while since I brought to you information on Malawi HIV and Aids research. A search for Malawi and Aids from July 2013 to date on Pubmed, one of the largest biomedical databases, found 24 publications. Here is an overview of the ones that I thought may interest you.
A study published in Aids Care measured HIV treatment optimism in over 1 500 Malawian young people. The researchers were investigating whether young people believed HIV is a less serious threat due to ARVs.
They investigated this because other studies have observed that people may no longer consider HIV a serious threat because of ARVs and this is referred to as treatment optimism. They found that in Malawi, the spread of ART has not yet led to widespread treatment optimism.
Early sexual debut (starting to have sex) is linked to an increased risk of HIV infection. A study by Mkandawire and others examined the association between circumcision status and the time of first sexual intercourse amongst adolescents.
They found that being circumcised is associated with earlier initiation of sexual activity and that circumcised males were more likely to have more sexual partners, more likely to pay for sex and less likely to use condoms.
They also found that young men who knew that a condom can reduce the risk of HIV/Aids transmission, experience their first sexual intercourse later than those who did not know. They found that in the Yao and Lomwe tribes, boys had a much earlier age of sexual debut and suggest it is due to cultural traditions and sexual initiation rites for boys and girls.
Muslims often have a much older age of sexual debut due to religious sexual norms, but in this study, surprisingly, they found an early initiation of sex among Muslims and speculate that migration and modern influences have impacted on Muslim youth sexual debut.
Wealth and education increased the age of sexual debut which is contrast to other studies. The authors comment “…in preparing young people for adolescence and reproductive responsibilities in Malawi, more emphasis is often placed on teaching girls about reproductive implications of menarche, relative to what is expected of boys as sexual beings, leading to boys’ greater indulgence in risky sexual practices.”
There were a number of studies reporting the benefits of ARVs to pregnant mothers. Antiretrovirals for prevention of mother to child transmission reduced death in mothers and children, improved CD4 counts and nutrition status of mothers. A study by Chorwe-Sungani found that nurses lack the knowledge and skills to care for people with HIV/AIDS who have mental health problems. Check out ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed for summaries of more studies.