Among other milestones, Malawi has managed to reduce the number of new infections from 130,000 recorded in 1994 to 32,000 in 2013. This is not a mean achievement and this landmark stands as proof that we can really “Get to Zero!” Furthermore, Malawi has also reduced the number of AIDS related deaths from 94,000 per year, as recorded in 2004, to 48, 000 deaths in 2013.
As stated in June, 2014 by the Chairperson of the National AIDS Commission (NAC), Mara Kumbweza Banda; despite these achievements, 32,000 new HIV infections every year is very high and the national HIV prevalence rate of 10.3% and incidence rate is still high as well.
As a country, Malawi is making some tremendous strides on issues pertaining to HIV management and other related issues. However, there is also a need to deal with HIV-related stigma and discrimination. The prejudice, negative attitudes and abuses directed towards people who are living with HIV and AIDS are just unacceptable and have no place in the democratic Malawi.
Some people living with HIV are being denied treatment in hospitals. Some more are being denied access to benefit from the government’s Farm Input and Fertilizer Subsidy Programme among other heartrending accounts of people living with HIV. Something has to be done in order to ensure that such pervasive negative attitudes are dealt with.
YONECO’s vision is “a self-reliant HIV and AIDS free society that respects democratic values and principles”. Any kind of stigma is an undesirable element in any society and the organisation works tirelessly to raise people’s awareness on the consequences of stigma and discrimination. YONECO believes that we can live in a free society where people are not being stigmatised on the basis of their circumstances in life be it their HIV status or what-have-you. Stigma is the last thing that is needed in battle against further spreading of HIV infection as well as mitigating the impact of AIDS.
There is hope and there is need to ensure that people who are HIV positive are starting treatment in good time. Malawi commemorated the World AIDS Day under the theme "Getting to Zero is Possible with Early HIV Treatment. Act Now".
Today, over a million Malawians are living with HIV and out of these, 310,000 are young people below the age of 24!”
Together we can “get to Zero!”