Phalombe failing to manage HIV and AIDS
By Linda Likomwa
Phalombe, July 22, Mana: About 142 people in Phalombe are said to have completely stopped taking Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) treatment after being told by their religious leaders that they were healed.
Speaking on Thursday during Candle Light Commemoration at Makhanga Primary School Ground in the district, ART District Coordinator, Albert Kamanga said the situation was worrisome because most of the times they develop resistance to treatment once they become sick.
“We identified the 142 during a follow-up with support from Non-Governmental Organizations and they revealed to us that they were told by their religious leaders to stop the treatment because they were healed after being prayed for,” said Kamanga.
Kamanga further said apart from these, the district also registered 7604 ART defaulters and a high prevalence HIV rate of 15 per cent against the national prevalence rate of eight (8) percent.
“As a district, we are not doing well on HIV and AIDS management. This is due to cultural believes followed by early marriages, lack of community awareness on HIV and AIDS and gender based violence,” he said.
Kamanga, however, said 34,970 people were currently committed to the treatment which he said was more than 50 per cent of those that were on treatment.
In an interview, Phalombe Council Chairperson, Bernard Komwa said as a district, they would meet with the pastors fraternal to find solutions to the problem.
He then pledged to continue working with traditional leaders to make sure that harmful cultural beliefs were changed.
Speaking earlier, Traditional Authority Chiwalo commended the council for considering his area to hold the commemoration, saying a lot of people in his area were lacking information on HIV and AIDS which he said led to high prevalence rate.
He said since his area is along Lake Chirwa, most of the times people misbehave and, therefore, he has appealed to government and NGOs to reach out to his people with HIV and AIDS information.
Phalombe has 65,027 people on ART treatment and the commemoration was celebrated under theme “We Remember, We Take Action, We live beyond AIDS”.