HIV discoverer visits Malawi next week

Dr Jay Levy, the American scientist who co-discovered HIV, will visit Malawi next week.

The medical researcher based at the University of California San Francisco in the US independently identified the virus, which causes Aids, in 1983.

To reflect on past, present and future of HIV trends: Levy

This discovery stimulated scientists to better understand and control the viral syndrome which kills almost 24 000 Malawians yearly.

Doctors in Malawi, where at least nine in 100 people live with HIV, first diagnosed the virus in 1985 in Lilongwe.

The country still has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates globally despite the impressive progress in controlling the HIV pandemic.

To mark the 35th anniversary of his famous discovery, Levy will give a keynote talk at College of Medicine in Blantyre on Tuesday.

The University of Malawi’s medical college is renowned worldwide for pioneering Option B+, a test-and-treat initiative that has improved prevention of mother-to-child transmission since 2011 by ensuring every pregnant woman living with HIV is put on retroviral therapy (ART).

Levy arrives in the country courtesy of Global Aids Interfaith Alliance (Gaia).

On Wednesday, he is scheduled to visit Gaia’s door-to-door initiative in Mulanje which has enhanced HIV testing, care and treatment among adolescents and men in remote areas.

According to Gaia programmes officer and grants manager Kristin Nash, Levy will give a talk on the past, present and future of HIV and Aids response.

In a statement from the US, she said: “On this anniversary, Dr Levy’s ‘state of the virus’ update provides an opportunity to raise awareness of where we stand in our fight against the deadliest epidemic in human history and where we need to end it.”

Levy will meet with colleagues in the country as well as tour Gaia programmes designed to find people living with HIV and link them to treatment, reads the statement.

In an interview, Gaia country director Joyce Jere said they are looking forward to “sharing experiences and emerging ideas” Levy.

His breakthrough catalysed advancements in HIV response, including the availability of medication even in the developing world.

Malawi has rolled out universal access to ART, putting everyone diagnosed HIV positive on treatment immediately.

The life-prolonging drugs are known to suppress viral load and reduce new infections from 98 000 a year in 2005 to 36 000 in 2016.

This has led people living with HIV (PLHIV) to healthy and productive lives as Aids-related death have dipped from

Given this feat, the world stands at a historic moment when global optimism to end Aids by 2030 seems possible.

The 90-90-90 global agenda backed by the UNAids seeks to ensure that by 2020, at least 90 percent of PLWHs are tested, 90 percent of those with diagnosed HIV infections receive uninterrupted treatment and 90 percent of them achieve undetectable viral load.

 

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