alawi has registered a decline in new HIV infections by 61 percent, despite slow global progress against the virus during the last two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, new data from UNAids on the global HIV response has shown.
In its report ‘In Danger—UNAids Global Aids Update 2022’, released as part of events marking the Aids 2022 Conference which took place from July 29 to August 2 2022, the agency attributed the positive trends to Malawi’s expansion of HIV treatment.
Reads the report in part: “The country expanded HIV treatment with a focus on reaching both women and their partners through antenatal care.”
The report further indicates that Malawi also saw a considerable decline in Aids and Tuberculosis-related deaths by 77 percent.
In an interview yesterday, health rights advocate Maziko Matemba hailed the progress, saying it gives hope that the country could achieve its goal of eradicating HIV by 2030.
He applauded partners such as US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar), Usaid and Global Fund for investing heavily in HIV prevention in Malawi.
However, Matemba cautioned that the country should not ignore the remaining 39 percent in its prevention interventions.
He said: “We still need to renew our prevention strategies, taking into account that we still have 39 percent new infections.
“The most infected generation of adolescent girls and young women was not there when this pandemic was at its highest peak in the early 90s when a lot of people were dying, so they don’t take the pandemic seriously.”
The report highlighted that Malawi is struggling to prevent new infections in young women, children and key populations as they are disproportionately affected by HIV.
It further pointed out global challenges in HIV treatment, particularly in urban-rural divide where people access HIV services unequally, depending on where they live.
“Due to global crises, many countries are struggling to fight HIV as resources have shrunk, putting millions of lives at risk as a result. For example, in sub-Saharan Africa, adolescent girls and young women are three times as likely to acquire HIV as adolescent boys and young men,” it reads.
UNAids Malawi country director Nuha Ceesay said ending Aids requires collaboration.
“Ending Aids as a public health concern in Malawi by 2030 is not a moving target but a realistic commitment that requires predictable partnership and sustainable funding, including the increased use of domestic resources,” she said.
Unaids executive director Winnie Byanyima said the Aids response is in severe danger.
“If we are not making rapid progress, then we are losing ground, as the pandemic thrives amid Covid-19, mass displacement, and other crises,” she said.
By 2020, Malawi had achieved 90–90–90 targets for HIV testing and treatment, alongside Botswana, Eswatini, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.