HIV in Malawi

The global health problem I chose to discuss is HIV in Malawi. According to the AVERT website, the adult prevalence of HIV in the country is 10.8%. “AIDS is the leading cause of death amongst adults in Malawi, and is a major factor in the country’s low life expectancy of just 54.8 years.” There are many different factors involved in describing those who are affected by HIV in Malawi. Routes of transmission differ throughout the country, yet a majority of the infections are seen in heterosexual sex cases, young people and children with growing annual rates, and there is a particularly high prevalence rate amongst sex workers in Malawi, making up about 70.7% of cases among the labor groups. In addition, at all age groups, women are disproportionately affected by HIV when compared to men.

There are many efforts that exist to help prevent the spread of the disease throughout Malawi. Many of these efforts target transmission through sex, on behalf of majority of cases occurring through this route. Some examples of these efforts listed in the article are, expanding voluntary HIV testing and counseling, prevention of mother to child transmission services, condom promotion and distribution, mass media campaigns and Life Skills Education for young people.  Many structural issues exist in Malawi that hinder HIV prevention while increasing HIV infections. Some of these barriers include, lack of resources, discrimination, governmental laws, low socio-economic status, and gender inequality. On a positive note, the Malawian government has expressed effort in combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and Malawi has begun to see a steady decline in the prevalence of the disease over the more recent years.

An anthropological study pertaining to this area of interest was done and presented by the International AIDS Society. This study addressed, “Couples’ voices on medicalised male circumcision (MMC) polemics and masculinities in southern Malawi.” The study was done is reference to the statistic that gender inequality and masculinity was facilitating the spread of HIV among long-term relationships, and how rethinking this masculinity could potentially overcome these factors. The results of the study suggest that men over the age of thirty view MMC as irrelevant at their age and unnecessary. Although many women are in favor of MMC, men counter the arguments for its medical benefits. For more information on this study go to, http://pag.aids2012.org/Abstracts.aspx?AID=9079.

 

“HIV & AIDS in Malawi.” AVERT.org. Last modified 2014. http://www.avert.org/hiv-aids-malawi.htm

Kaunda, B. N., D. Mathanga, A. Nkhata, R. Pool. “Couples’ voices on medicalised male circumcision (MMC) polemics and masculinities in southern Malawi: an anthropological study.” International AIDS Society, 2012.

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