‘HIV prevalence still high among police officers’

 

Commissioner of Police for the Central Region George Kainja says despite Malawi making huge strides in fighting HIV and Aids, the number of police officers living with the virus is on the higher side.

According to Commissioner, a survey Malawi Police Service (MPS) conducted shows that 22.5 percent of female police officers and 16.4 percent of male officers are living positively.

Kainja made the remarks in Mponela, Dowa, on  the sidelines of a workshop organised by Pakachere Institute that drew sex workers, MPS officers-in-charge and magistrates.

Kainja (L) and Mablekisi listening to a presentation during the meeting

He said while it is encouraging that the national HIV prevalence is at 8.8 percent, it is disheartening that the figures are on the higher side when it comes to the MPS.

“With a lot of officers living with the virus, it negatively affects us as cases of absenteeism are high and some officers die while they are still very productive,” said Kainja.

According to the commissioner, the meeting with sex workers came at the right time to find a new approach on how officers can relate with them.

He also called on the sex workers to report to Police once they have been harassed by police officers or magistrates.

Pakachere Institute managing director Simon Sikwese said the workshop was organised to find ways of removing structural barriers that affect female sex workers in the course of duty.

“Sometimes police officers overstep their mandate and arrest innocent sex workers. Sometimes the officers demand sex from the sex workers and this can be one of the reasons the police is affected by the pandemic very much.

“As Pakachere we will continue to work with the police so that we can reduce new infections,’ he said.

National Aids Commission (NAC) director of programmes Chimwemwe Mablekisi disclosed that despite Malawi making strides in the fight against HIV and Aids, there is still more that needs to be done.

According to NAC, the 2013 Biological and Behavioural Surveillance Survey (BBSS) estimates prevalence in male officers at 16.6 per cent and 22.6 per cent in female police officers.

The meeting was funded by Global Fund.

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