Dignitas International says the fight against HIV and Aids can be won if scientists conduct accurate research that can assist policymakers to scale up various initiatives on the pandemic’s prevention as well as access to treatment among the patients.
Country director for the organisation in Malawi, Vanessa Van Schoor, made the observation on Thursday in Zomba during a workshop where it presented results of a research it conducted on HIV and Aids from its catchment areas of Zomba, Balaka, Mangochi, Machinga, Phalombe and Mulanje.
According to the results, Aids remains the leading cause of deaths for adolescents in the areas whereas provision of ART to children and adolescents has clinical and adherence challenges. The research also established that ‘expert clients’ who are peer educators—who have themselves enrolled in prevention of mother to child transmission programmes as well as have good understanding of HIV and adherence to the pandemic—are crucial in the elimination of the virus.
“We are anxious to present these research results in different forums to influence policymakers to champion the battle against the pandemic in the country,” said Schoor.
Zomba district health officer Dr. Gift Kawalazira defined the research as timely as he said it has come out at a time when government is trying its efforts to curb the virus in the country.
He said due to a shortage of health workers in the country, government previously failed to monitor HIV and Aids patients in their communities to register their progress on drugs, hence empowerment of expert clients complement government’s efforts in tracing treatment defaulters.
“This research is an eye opener for us to face HIV and Aids issues with relative ease and we are geared to act on these findings,” he said.