HIV/AIDs in Malawi
AIDs is the leading cause of death for adults in Malawi (Avert). Malawi’s first AIDS case was reported in 1985 (Avert). The government at the time implemented only a “short term response” which included blood screening and HIV education programs. Between 1964 and 1994 Malawi was under the rule of President Hastings Banda, who paid little attention to HIV/AIDS. “His puritanical beliefs made it very difficult for AIDS education and prevention schemes to be carried out, as public discussion of sexual matters was generally banned or censored, and HIV and AIDS were considered taboo subjects” (Avert). During his “presidency” from the first reported case to a year before he relinquished power the HIV prevalence among women tested at urban clinics increased from 2% to 30% (Avert).
In 1994, Banda stepped down following many protests and international condemnation allowing Malawi to become a multiparty-democracy. Malwai then elected President Bakili Muluzi who made a speech in which he acknowledged that the country was undergoing a very severe epidemic and stressed the need for a unified response. By this point AIDS had already “damaged Malawi’s social and economic infrastructure” (Avert). Farmers couldn’t farm to provide food, children could not attend school, workers couldn’t work to support their families. The epidemic was a large factor that contributed to Malawi’s worst famine in 50 years in 2002. A report during that famine said that 70 percent of hospital deaths at the time were AIDS related (UN Aids 2002).
An anthropologist working on the HIV/AIDs crisis in Malawi is Anat Rosenthal. She researches the affects of HIV/AIDs in poorer countries, rural communities, families, and children in those contexts (Boh). Dr. Rosenthal has participated in over a year of work on the field with nearly 50 personal interviews with those affected by the crisis. She works to strengthen families affected by HIV/AIDs and improve community responses to cases of HIV/AIDs (Boh). Funding for treatment, awareness, and social improvement have been made available by the World Bank, the World health organization, UNaids, and the government of Malawi (Avert).
HIV & Aids in Malawi
UN Aids 2002
Medical Anthropologist promotes Aids awareness in Malawi