Malawi mayor: personal responsibility key to HIV fight

Measures to reduce the spread of HIV are bearing fruits in Malawi, but failure by some people in top positions to participate is also impeding progress, says the Mayor for Blantyre City Council.

Measures to reduce the spread of HIV are bearing fruits in Malawi, but failure by some people in top positions to participate is also impeding progress, says the Mayor for Blantyre City Council.

Mayor Noel Chalamanda was speaking during a ceremony at Chinkhuti Primary School in the Mkukula central region of the country on 10 June, where he was a guest of honour. The event was one of a series being held at district level across the country following the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial on 17 May.

At the event the Mayor reminded people that the HIV pandemic has been around for a long time and people continue to suffer from it. He encouraged people to: “Reflect and take stock of our lives as individuals.”

HIV messages ignored

Mayor Chalamanda at the ceremony

Chalamanda continued: “One of the challenges are some people continue to ignore HIV and AIDS messages, maybe we’ve had them for too long. If you look around many people living with the virus don’t have visible signs which is a good thing but that shouldn’t stop us from spreading the message.

“When you go to companies or big organisations people at the top don’t think they are targets of these messages but the fact remains the messages are for everybody because HIV does not discriminate,” he added.

The views were echoed by HIV activist Davison Mkandawire, who has been living with the virus since 1998.

“People who are well to do are also contributing to the spread of the virus since they insist in sleeping with ladies without protecting himself in return for a lot of money and they also look fine despite having the disease. When a poor man like me goes to the same lady, I will easily catch it and since I can’t afford healthy living, I will be hugely affected,” said Mkandawire, attracting applause from the audience.

Mkandawire also urged people who know they are living with the virus to act responsibly.

“As someone living with the virus, I would not want anybody to get the disease from me. Instead I should be the light in reducing fears in those afraid of testing,” Mkandawire said. And speaking alongside his wife, he encouraged spouses to disclose their status to partners for quick treatment and support for both partners.

Mobilising support for HIV response

The Malawi national Aids Commission quotes Safari Mbewe, who represented the secretary for health during a press conference held earlier, saying: “The event will give people an opportunity to remember Malawian lives lost and affected by HIV and AIDS, to fight stigma and increase awareness of HIV and AIDS, and to mobilise public support for sound HIV and AIDS policies and programmes.”

The International Aids Candlelight Memorial event is one of the world’s oldest and largest grassroots mobilisation campaigns for HIV awareness in the world. It is led by a coalition of some 1,200 community organisations in 115 countries.

Chalamanda said it is encouraging that international organisations continue to develop initiatives to curb the spread of the virus. He cited the ‘90 90 90’ conference that he recently attended in Accra Ghana as one such initiative.

The UNAIDS ‘90 90 90’ worldwide campaign advocates for 90 per cent of all people living with HIV knowing their HIV status, 90 per cent of all people diagnosed with HIV receiving antiretroviral therapy and 90 per cent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy having viral suppression by the year 2020.

Chalamanda added that the fact that the city and country as a whole has lost so many people to the pandemic who would have contributed to the development of the country makes the event particularly poignant.

During the event, the audience observed a minute of silence in respect to those who died from AIDS-related illness. There was also performance in the form of poetry, dance and drama.

Watch young Zimbabwean correspondent Sungano’s video: standing strong with HIV



  • comment-avatar

    This was so helpful and easy! Do you have any areclits on rehab?