Like mother, like child: HIV and AIDS in Malawi
Updated: Nov 3, 2018
Malawi is ranked Top 10 in the world by the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook – Top 10 for HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate worldwide, Top 10 for people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide and Top 10 for HIV/AIDS deaths worldwide. With a population of around 16 million, an estimated 1.2 million people live with HIV/AIDS. Reports suggest that 180,000 of these cases are among children with approximately 16,000 new cases developing each year.
The AIDS epidemic extends further than just the children infected. Many parents of these children die from HIV/AIDS each year, leaving behind thousands of orphans. UNICEF estimates a total of 1.3 million children are living as orphans in Malawi. 770,000 of these children have been orphaned due to their parents dying from AIDS. Over half the population of orphans in Malawi have been stranded due to an infection, which took the life of their parents.
Year 1985 saw the first case of HIV/AIDS in Malawi at Kamuzu Central Hospital. At this time, under the rule of then President Hastings Banda, any talk of HIV/AIDS was illegal. Any talk on sexuality or reproductive health was considered taboo. The situation deteriorated quickly, and, in 2002, Malawi experienced a nationwide famine due to the prevalence of AIDS.
In 2003, the crisis began to ameliorate. Antiretroviral drugs became available in Malawi, and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria donated a large sum of money. A year later, Bingu wa Mutharika was elected as President. Mutharika focused on increasing government intervention. He developed a National AIDS Policy during his presidency and created and appointed a position for a Principal Secretary for HIV/AIDS.
With a physician rate of two physicians per 100,000 people, one of the five lowest ratios worldwide, Malawi’s situation does not look promising. However, not all hope is lost. The use of antiretroviral therapy has augmented phenomenally over the last decade with an estimated 300,000 people having gained access to this treatment. Condom distribution has also increased significantly as well as voluntary counseling and testing sites, an estimated 1,392 in the last ten years. This has all assisted in increased awareness of the virus.
It does not stop there. Although the situation is improving, there is still a long way to go. Please help both the infected and uninfected orphaned children in Malawi by contributing bounteously. Without your ongoing support, the future does not look bright for these children and future generations to come. Your assistance makes a great difference.