HIV in Malawi


The first case of AIDS in Malawi was in 1985. Between 1985 and 1993, HIV occurrence among women tested at urban clinics rose from a mere 2% to 30%. A majority of HIV infections are transferred via heterosexual sex. There is a higher prevalence rate for HIV infection among women than men. According to the Avert website, “Around 60% of adults living with HIV are female. The majority of HIV infections occur amongst young people, particularly those between the ages of 13 and 24. The epidemic has heavily affected children. In 2009 and estimated 120,000 children in Malawi were living with HIV, and more than half a million children had been orphaned by AIDS.” These are shocking and saddening statistics. Due to this high occurrence of HIV within Malawi, many organizations, international donors, and governments have taken it upon themselves to not only help with the awareness of HIV, but have also helped to diminish the spread of HIV infection.

Voluntary counseling and testing was introduced in Malawi in 1992. With the help of Malawi AIDS Counseling Resource Organization (MARCO, an NGO) rapid blood testing was introduced in 2000. This allowed people to have their blood tested and find out their HIV status the same day as testing.

Dr. Anat Rosenthal, a medical anthropologist, studied HIV/AIDS epidemic in Malawi. According to an article, “…Rosenthal has comprehensively studied how both international and local health organizations impact the impoverished communities and villagers.” Rosenthal hold lectures dedicated to bringing attention to fighting and preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS. Rosenthal is very passionate about the issue of HIV/AIDS within Malawi.

Bringing attention to the epidemic of HIV/AIDS is very important. Although the attention and awareness over the years has expanded, the change of HIV prevention has been slow. According to Avert, “One of the biggest challenges currently facing Malawi is the lack of human resources available within the country… this problem has been most significant in the healthcare sector… Malawi has just one doctor per 50,000 people.” If we continue with HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention we can only hope that these statistics can change and we can better the lives of people living in Malawi.

Boh, Patricia. “Medical anthropologist promotes AIDS awareness in Malawi.” Last modified November 20, 2012. Accessed August 8, 2013.

AVERT. “HIV & AIDS in Malawi.” Accessed August 8, 2013.

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Steven Sochacki says:

    I guess the theory that Dr. Anat Rosenthal used is that if one brings awareness and attention to a disease, then the number of people getting the disease will eventually decrease. The method she used, according to what you have written, is holding lectures about HIV/AIDS and what can be done to stop the spread of it.

    I think that anthropology is very important when looking at HIV/AIDS in Africa. Dr. Anat Rosenthal, for example, studies how health organizations in Malawi affect communities and villages there. It is important to understand how healthcare works in a country or local area so the problems with them can be identified and fixed. As you mentioned in your post, most of the people that have HIV/AIDS are children. I have read in other articles and posts that this is not only due to mother-to-child transmission of the disease, but also due to breastfeeding. An anthropologist can look at this from an economic standpoint due to the fact that many mothers in Malawi cannot afford formula to give to their infants, so they decide to breastfeed instead. By knowing this, an anthropologist could help in starting a program that would, for example, sell formula for a low price.

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