HIV/Aids on the rise among Malawian adolescents – study

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HIV prevalence rate among children aged between 10 and 19 remains higher in Malawi than the national HIV prevalence rate, a research by the United Nations Children’s Fund has revealed.

The research targeted adolescents in five districts namely Lilongwe, Mzimba, Blantyre, Thyolo and Dedza.

The HIV and AIDS Prevention Officer for UNICEF Ken Warren said the adolescent prevalence rate is 5% higher than the national prevalence rate.

Warren said “out of the 5,000 youths who were tested for HIV, over 1,700 tested positive of which 1,356 were girls”.

The assessment further indicated that children aged below 15 years had an aggregate prevalence rate of 15% with the positivity rate of boys being at 7 % while that of girls being at 8%.

A social scientist working with UNICEF on the assessment Alfred Zilankhulani said the trend is a result of lack of HTC services that target the pre-adolescents.

“Most service providers are not trained in Youth Friendly Health Services, and that HIV positive adolescents reported some discriminatory remarks from service providers,” said Zilankhulani.

He therefore called for adequate training of youth friendly counselors in pre adolescent counseling to address the situation and prevent reversing the progress that Malawi has done in reducing the national HIV prevalence rate.

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