World AIDS Day 2014: A message to young people from Malawi
Our World AIDS Day 2014 blog brings together voices from the field to share perspectives on the HIV epidemic on this day of remembrance and solidarity. This blog series includes messages from AVERT’s CEO, our partner, the Umunthu Foundation, and a case study from our South African partner, Sisonke. The blog also features guest pieces from the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, and the Key Correspondents programme.
David Odali, Director, the Umunthu Foundation
Dear all young people,
As the world commemorates World AIDS Day, I wish to share with you something about HIV and AIDS, which is one of the most important challenges facing governments and civil societies.
Young people are at the centre of the HIV and AIDS epidemic both in terms of its spread and in terms of the potential for changing the attitudes and behaviours towards this virus. An estimated 30 percent of the 40 million people living with HIV and AIDS are young people aged 15-24 and about half of all new HIV infections occur among this group. In Malawi, the national adult HIV prevalence rate is an estimated 10.6 percent
Young people are vulnerable to HIV because of risky sexual behaviours such as unprotected sex and multiple sexual partners. Crucially, a lack of correct information and education about HIV and prevention services also contribute to vulnerability to HIV infection among young people.
I wish to urge young people to adopt behaviour change to avert new HIV infections. One of the most effective ways of preventing HIV is to get tested. Those who test negative for HIV will prevent HIV infection, whilst those who test positive for HIV, can protect their own health by accessing treatment, but also prevent onward transmission of HIV.
I wish to inform young people that our organisation, the Umunthu Foundation, with support from the AVERT operate three HIV Clinics in Bangwe and Limbe, where people can access HIV counseling, testing, care and treatment services. With the newly purchased CD4 Count Machine for the Bangwe based HIV clinic, the organisation will be able to provide a one-stop-centre for all AVERT funded clinics in both Bangwe and Limbe.
May I request the youth of Malawi, and the world in general, to go for a HIV test . Let us ALL go for HIV TESTING.
David Odali is Director of the Umunthu Foundation, AVERT's partner in Malawi. Umunthu is a community-based organisation working in the townships of Bangwe and Limbe, in Malawi’s second city, Blantyre. Umunthu’s aim is to promote democracy, human rights and good governance; to mitigate the causes and impact of HIV and AIDS; to promote food security among rural households; and to economically empower vulnerable groups and young people.