By Draxon Maloya:
A recent snap study aimed at examining the new HIV and Aids prevalence rate in the country has shown that there is an increase in young mothers contracting the virus.
However, this is against some fake social media reports indicating that the percentage of those adolescent girls between 15-24 year age brackets has reached 35 percent.
According to National Aids Commission (NAC) Public Relations Officer, Karren Msiska, the 2021 Epidemiological Estimates for Malawi shows that 33% of new HIV infections comprises adolescent girls and young women aged 15-24; not 35% and not 15-21.
Msiska said reasons for the problem are more than just the hostel issue which is suggested to be the challenge in most public secondary schools but also some social, cultural and economic shortfalls.
“According to the 2021 HIV Epidemiological Estimates for Malawi, 33 percent of all new infections comprises adolescent girls and young women aged 15-24,” Msiska said.
The NAC Publicist further stated that most of those in the 15-24 year age group are also in higher learning institutions where several conditions put them at further risk.
“The issue of self-boarding exposes them because there is little control as compared to those on campus where they are somehow monitored by the hostel matrons. The need for them to provide for themselves exposes them to the predatory men who use their money to sexually abuse the adolescents,
“This is also due to a number of social, cultural and economic reasons. Some of those contracting the HIV are just entering puberty and would like to experiment what they have heard about sex. Unfortunately, they lack accurate information and end up contracting the virus,” he narrated.
However, he concluded saying as for the situation in higher learning institutions, these are not just for public tertiary institutions, referring to the HIV and AIDS Strategy for Higher Education Institutions herewith attached.
Meanwhile, according to the 2021 HIV Epidemiological Estimates for Malawi the country is now at 97:92:94 on 2020 UNAIDS targets.