HIV-related deaths down to 12 000 annually

HIV-related deaths are reported to have reduced to around 12 000 annually from over 64 000 in 2005, a development National Aids Commission (NAC) board chairperson Jones ChikokoNkhoma has described as a positive.

He said this on Thursday during the annual International Aids Candlelight Memorial organised by Blantyre City Council (BCC) at Nyambadwe Primary School ground in Blantyre.

In his speech at the event, Nkhoma said the development makes achieving the 2030 goal of ending HIV and Aids as a public health threat in line with United Nations (UN) Fast Track 90:90:90 targets possible.

Chirambo (L) is helped to light up a candle by Nkhoma

He said: “We have come from a situation where one would feel the whole human race would have been wiped out by now. However, we now feel, yes, we can achieve our goal.”

He described the reduced HIV prevalence rate to 8.8 percent from 12 percent in 2004 as a milestone for the country.

However, Nkhoma warned that the country may lose such gains if prevention is not emphasised as it remains a benchmark of the national strategy to control HIV.

On her part, Namalimwe Ward councillor Gertrude Chirambo, who represented Blantyre City Mayor Wild Ndipo, described the commemoration as a day that provides an opportunity to take stock of what the country has achieved in tackling Aids.

“It also provides an opportunity to encourage those living with HIV to champion the fight against the pandemic and to advocate for increased resource allocation towards the disease,” she said.

The event began with a march from Ndirande Market to Nyambadwe Primary School ground where several activities, including people living with HIV giving testimonies, took place.

The theme for the event was Intensifying the Fight for Health and Rights.

The event took place days after a Medicins Sans Frontieres report indicated that funding gaps threaten to wipe out gains made in the course of combating the disease.

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