HIV in Malawi

The global health problem from my title is HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, in a country called Malawi, which is in Africa. The website “Avert,” an international charity for HIV and AIDS, discusses many topics, including the prevalence of this disease in Malawi. One main fact that stood out was that approximately one million people have the disease, out of the 15.4 million living in the country. Some other facts from the site include that the first case of HIV was found in 1985, and some contributing factors to the high prevalence of the disease include things like lack of healthcare workers in the area, and lack of access to education about HIV treatment/prevention. HIV is also more common in women of the country, which we are told is most likely due to gender inequalities in economic and social status.

As far as prevention of the disease, the site says that the government has been working on trying to increase awareness and prevention strategies, but the efforts are slow due to the lack of resources. These strategies are funded through donors from all over the world, and includes things like testing for HIV, passing out condoms, and trying to prevent mothers from passing HIV on to their children through breastfeeding.

An example of one anthropologist working in Malawi on this topic is Peggy Bently, who is discussed in the article “Malawi Study May Lead to New Approach to Improve Health and Survival of HIV- Positive Mothers and Their Infants.” Bentley’s main focus in Malawi is the study and improvement of the health of breast- feeding mothers infected with HIV, and the health of their infants. Bentley found that even though breastfeeding can lead to HIV infection of children, “infants are at a greater risk of dying if they are not breastfed rather than if they are, even by an HIV- positive mother.” The focus of the study became giving both mothers, since breastfeeding “increases nutrional demands on mothers,” and infants nutritional supplements to see if their health could be improved. Another key part of the study was to test the efficiency of certain antiretroviral drugs on infants to help combat the passing of HIV during breastfeeding. The findings of this study are still being gathered and interpreted.


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