Malawi has seen a 67% reduction in the number of children acquiring HIV

Since its first diagnosis in 1985, Malawi has come a long way in the struggle to overcome HIV/Aids. At least 10 percent of the country’s population has HIV. In 2013, some 48,000 people in this country of 16 million died from HIV-related illnesses. But experts across the board agree that the country, nestled deep in southern Africa, has made significant progress.

According to UNAIDS, there has been a reduction in new infections. Malawi’s treatment programme, which began in 2004, has reportedly saved 260,000 lives. Crucially, it has seen a 67 percent reduction in the number of children acquiring HIV, the biggest success story across all sub-Saharan nations

 But the story is far from over. Women and girls, sex workers and men who have sex with men are still very vulnerable. Moreover, young people account for 50 percent of new infections.

Ahead of the 21st International Aids Conference in Durban, South Africa, Al Jazeera spoke to Peter Kumpalume, Malawi’s minister of health, in Lilongwe and the minister has this to say:

We have had a very high infection rate. I think at some point it was estimated to be around 25 percent but we have managed to reduce it to about 10 percent”.

It’s been hanging around there for some time and, indeed, we have reduced the infection rate significantly to about 40,000 a year.

How have we done that? I think in two ways.

Number one: there has been a concerted effort from government and civil society organisations to sensitise the people about the decisions they make. So the messages have been going out loud and clear.

The second aspect of it, of course, is the availability of medicines.

Malawi’s Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

 

Read the full interview here: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/07/malawi-reduced-hivaids-infection-rate-160718084113107.html

 

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