Nkhata Bay North has recently seen a significant drop in HIV cases.
Based on data from the five local health centres where Temwa operates, HIV rates in Nkhata Bay North have now reduced by almost 20%. According to officers in charge at the health centres, this exciting result is mainly thanks to Temwa’s HIV awareness activities. Our co-founders Jo Hook and Sophie Guise established Temwa after they saw first-hand the devastating impacts of the AIDS crisis in Nkhata Bay North almost 20 years ago. We have continued to raise awareness of HIV ever since, and are so proud to see the positive impact of our work.
A fantastic result for communities
Malawi still has one of the highest rates of HIV in the world. In 2020, about 990,000 people, about 8% of the population, were living with HIV (UNAIDS 2020). And in Nkhata Bay North, the HIV prevalence rate has long been even higher at 16%, double the national average. To put that in context, only 0.1% people currently live with HIV in the UK(UK Health and Security Agency, 2020).
Temwa Programmes Manager, Pieta Karoniemi said:
“The stigma associated with HIV and AIDS has been very high, and many community members have feared to know their status. This recent reduction in local HIV prevalence rates, from 16% to 13%, shows that mindsets and behaviour are changing. This is a fantastic result as in the long term it will also reduce the burden of the disease on the community as a whole.”
Our awareness campaigns have helped bring this change, because they are tailored for each community’s needs. With events and radio shows, we have helped people access information on HIV prevention. Including testing, treatment adherence, and stigma-free HIV testing at local health centres.
Encouragingly, we have also reached around 20,000 people in the surrounding lakeshore, uplands, and wider region through our radio broadcasts.
Over the last three years, Temwa has helped make HIV testing a routine service. Under the provider-initiated approach we offer HIV tests to patients during appointments, whatever the reason for their visit. Consequently, we are witnessing an exciting month-on-month increase in HIV testing.
Our project has also led to a significant reduction of up to 70% in people refusing HIV tests, at the five local health centres. This means that Temwa has helped to improve community knowledge about HIV prevention and treatment and reduce stigma. Crucially, more people are following the guidance on HIV prevention and are getting tested.
More to do
HIV rates in Nkhata Bay North are still very high compared to the national average. At 13%, this still means every household in the region is affected by HIV or AIDS. But after seeing this positive change, local communities have asked for Temwa’s support to continue running HIV services independently and sustainably.
Building on this success, Temwa has developed a new 2-year project to strengthen local HIV service provision and further expand HIV awareness in the community.
Eradicating AIDS is a core focus of at least ten of the UN’s sustainable development goals (UN AIDS). We still need your help to make sure this happens. Please donate now to Temwa and make sure no one is left behind.