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Alarming surge of HIV/AIDS among adolescent girls in Malawi

National AIDS Commission and Health Experts rally to address growing crisis

The National AIDS Commission (NAC) has sounded the alarm over the surging rate of new HIV/AIDS infections among teenage girls in Malawi as compared to their male counterparts.

Francis Mabedi, NAC’s Prevention and Management Officer, made the remarks during a media orientation on HIV/AIDS Prevention and Management Act held on Wednesday in Lilongwe.

Mabedi highlighted that approximately 22% of annual new HIV/AIDS cases are among adolescent girls and young mothers, attributing this alarming trend to factors such as transactional sex, lifestyle, lack of information, and cultural influences.

“Almost 22% of all new HIV infections they are being registered by adolescent girls and young women. We are talking to close of 3,300 new HIV infections that are registered by this group. There are various factors causing the alarming rate, such as transactional sex, the lifestyle that a lot of girls are subjected to. We are also looking at the culture that is prevalent,” said Mabedi.

Mabedi: There is a surge in new HIV/AIDS new cases among adolescents girls and young women

Our efforts to get reaction from the Ministry of Health proved futile as the Ministry’s Public Relations Officer Adrian Chikumbe did not respond to our questionnaire.

Health experts in the country have meanwhile described the rate at which adolescent girls and young women are registering new HIV/AIDS infections as worrisome, calling for immediate strategies to address it.

Malawi Health Equity Network (MEHN) Executive Director George Jobe has told Nthanda Times in an interview that to address the issue, there is a need to understand and investigate the possible reasons leading to the alarming increase of HIV/AIDS infections among the adolescent girls.

“It is very worrisome that this is the future generation. At the moment, we are talking about Malawi containing or lowering the HIV prevalence rate from two digits to a single digit. If nothing happens, the development can bring us back,” said Jobe.

Jobe added that there is a need for youths in the country to promote access of Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) among the teenagers in all locations in the country, as well calling for a good linkage between the health and education sector.

“Some of the strategies is to ensure that some of the Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights services are made available to the teenagers, and everywhere within their locations. These premises need to be manned by fellow youths who can talk the same language.

Jobe: SRHR Services need to be made available to youths

“We have also been advocating that there is a good linkage between the education sector and the health sector because when we are talking about contracting HIV/AIDS, then we are talking about the health sector. When we talk about the education sector, the interest would be that girls should not become pregnant, and they must stay in school. This is where the girls are told about dangers of getting pregnant at a tender age, and there should also be a package about the sexually transmitted infections,” added Jobe.

Jobe also urged stakeholders in the health sector to prioritize targeting the parents so that they know demands of the adolescent girls who are more exposed to the technological era and provide to the girls their basic needs so that no one should take advantage over them.

Speaking at the end of the orientation, Jacqueline Nhlema, Vice General Secretary for Bwaira Media Club, hailed NAC for the training session, calling it a significant step towards delivering comprehensive reporting on HIV/AIDS prevention among youths.

The orientation was aimed at equipping members of Bwaila Media Club with information of the HIV/AIDS Management and Prevention Act which was enacted by act of parliament in 2018

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