Temwa’s HIV and Family Planning Sessions

Following the successful implementation of our ‘provider-initiated HIV testing and counselling’ initiative across 5 local health centres in Nkhata Bay North in recent years, wherein every clinic visitor is offered an HIV test, Temwa remains committed to expanding our HIV-related efforts in the region. Our focus now extends to the establishment of outreach clinics, contact tracing, and community awareness campaigns.

The regular outreach clinics, conducted in remote and ‘at-risk’ communities, deliver crucial health services and HIV testing, playing a pivotal role in curbing the spread of the disease in the area. Our awareness events and radio campaigns concentrate on HIV transmission and prevention, emphasising family planning, sexual reproductive health, and strategies for HIV protection.

A recent training session, part of Temwa’s ongoing HIV project, was held in February. Led by Emmanuel Njikho, the Temwa Health Programme Manager, alongside the Usisya Clinical Officer and a trained nurse/midwife, the session attracted approximately 35 women and girls, including local sex workers, school children, and community members. Discussions revolved around the importance of contact tracing, concerns regarding the increasing number of young boys and men from fishing families visiting sex workers, sexual reproductive health, and HIV.

During the session, some sex workers expressed encountering resistance from their clients, particularly young boys and men, who were reluctant to use protection despite being informed about the risks of STDs and HIV transmission. However, the sex workers noted their increased insistence on protection to mitigate these risks.

Several young girls revealed their efforts to encourage their boyfriends to undergo HIV testing before engaging in sexual activities, a positive development. They also highlighted the prevalence of misinformation spread by boys regarding sex, such as myths about pregnancy prevention.

Moreover, girls shared experiences of unwanted advances from older men in the community, expressing empowerment gained through community training sessions, enabling them to assertively decline such advances.

Positive dialogues emerged between sex workers and other female attendees, with the former discouraging unsafe practices and advocating against pursuing sex work due to associated health risks.

The community nurse and midwife provided insights on family planning options, emphasising the importance of contraception in preventing HIV and STDs. Attendees were informed about accessing available services, with demonstrations on contraceptive methods and discussions on their advantages and disadvantages.

Overall, the session fostered candid discussions among women of varying ages, with attendees expressing appreciation for the knowledge gained and behavioural changes observed. Sex workers now prioritise disclosing their HIV status and advocating for condom use, while young girls are equipped to make informed decisions about their health and well-being.

Temwa’s Fundraising and Comms Manager, Amanda Grimstead who was in Malawi at the time of the meeting told us ‘I found observing this training session to be incredibly uplifting. Through engaging in the discussions, it became evident that women and girls are becoming increasingly aware of the risks associated with unprotected sex and are actively altering their behaviours. This aligns perfectly with the goals we aim to accomplish through this Temwa project.”

Find our more about our health projects here

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