Malawi government has cautioned that despite the successes registered through prevention from mother to child transmission (PMTCT) initiatives, HIV positive parents should not look at this as a warrant to continue bearing children.
Principal Secretary for Nutrition and HIV and Aids in the Office of the President and Cabinet Edith Mkawa said although through PMTCT children from positive parents are being born negative, parents should also look into other factors associated with raising a child before they consider having children.
“I want to caution all parents that even if the situation is like that, this should not give you a warrant to continue bearing children. You should also look at other factors associated with raising a child such as nutrition, social, health and general well-being of the child, on top of your own health,” she said.
Mkawa was speaking in Lilongwe on Thursday during the national dissemination conference of the legal and policy environment assessment report for HIV and Aids in the country.
She added: “Personally, I will be very happy to see parents that are living positively look after their children until they complete school, get a job, marry and have their own children.”
However, Mkawa said as government, it cannot regulate whether HIV positive parents should continue having children, saying the choice is left to the concerned parents provided they are given appropriate messages.
“The message at the moment is that positive parents should seek medical attention and guidance and that the mother should be in good health,” she said.
The assessment conference followed a study on the extent to which the current laws, regulations and policies, protect and promote the rights of the people including people living with HIV and other key vulnerable populations.
The study, which also focused on vulnerable populations such as sex workers, men having sex with men (MSM), prisoners and people living with disabilities, also looked at how various laws and policies promote universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.
Among various areas, the study looked at human rights issues such as stigma, discrimination, mandatory HIV testing, challenges to access to justice and law enforcement issues and punitive laws that create barriers to the national response to HIV and Aids.
Mkawa assured the conference that government recognises the importance of promoting and protecting human rights, fundamental freedoms and human dignity for all vulnerable groups in the country.
UNDP assistant resident representative Agnes Chimbiri said her organisation decided to support the initiative after realising the gaps in the laws and policies in relation to the fight against HIV and Aids.