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NGO set to tackle ART default, stigma in Nsanje

Friends of Aids Support Trust programme manager Mweta Katemba has encouraged people living with HIV and Aids in Nsanje District to adhere to anti-retroviral therapy (ART) treatment schedule.

He said this on Tuesday when his organisation donated 15 bicycles worth K3.4 million to 15 expert clients who trace ART defaulters in the district.

Katemba said the bicycles will enable the volunteers to reach people living with HIV and Aids in remote areas with messages of encouragement and other services.

A volunteer poses with her bicycle

He said: “We are promoting ART adherence among people living with HIV and Aids in traditional authorities (T/As) Ndamera, Chimombo, Ngabu and Malemia.

“In these areas, there are expert clients responsible for tracing ART defaulters to return to care. Some of these expert clients were covering long distances while others work in hard-to-reach-areas.”

Nsanje district nutrition officer Tapiwa Ngwira advised the expert clients to use the bicycles for their intended purpose.

He said it was important for the volunteers to encourage defaulters to return to care to have their viral load suppressed.

One of the volunteers, Eliza Billy, whose duty post is T/A Malemia, said apart from tracing defaulters, they will also tackle stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and Aids.

She said: “Stigma and discrimination discourages people living with HIV and Aids from accessing anti-retroviral drugs [ARVs].

“We need to fight stigma and discrimination to restore hope in people living with HIV and Aids to remain on ART services.”

Billy also said they will engage faith leaders and traditional healers not to discourage people living with HIV and Aids from taking ARVs.

With support from Aids Health Care Foundation-Malawi, Friends of Aids Support Trust is implementing community driven HIV and Aids prevention project in the district.

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