By Loga Joseph
University of Livingstonia, Malawi
Recently, The Malawi National AIDS Commission (NAC) visited University of Livingstonia, Laws Campus on 12th November, 2018, with a public lecture, mainly to equip the youths with the emerging issues on HIV and AIDS. The NAC complained that, according to their current demographic surveys it has shown that the youth are lacking comprehensive knowledge on HIV and AIDS. The knowledge is low among the young people as compared to adults. So, as one way of raising HIV and AIDS awareness NAC in conjunction with National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) developed a strategy. NAC works with the 90-90-90- An ambitious treatment target to help end the AIDS epidemic. In this strategy, by 2020, 90% of all students living with HIV will know their HIV status. Again, by 2020, 90% of all students with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy. By 2020, 90% of all students receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression. The young people are vulnerable to pandemic of HIV and AIDS. Therefore, the interventions of HIV and AIDS need the participation and commitment of young people.
There are several risk factors which foster the spread of HIV and AIDS among the University Students. The following are some of them which NAC highlightened. The first one was wide range of interconnectedness. In some colleges, “since there is that freedom that a boy or girl can visit one another in their rooms. The Possibilities of indulging in sexual activities are higher “therefore, they urged the University Students at Livingstonia to avoid the interconnectedness. Another factor is, poverty and economic deprivation. At university, there are several people with different economic status. Those who seem to be poor especially girls are prone to HIV and AIDS. They end up engaging themselves in prostitution as a way of curbing their poverty, thereby increasing the chances of being infected with HIV and AIDS. The third factor is, social and peer pressure. The majority of college students indulge in sexual activities just because of influence from their friends. This also contributes greatly to the spread of HIV and AIDS. Another risk factor is, University culture. It has come to their notice that College/University students have the feeling of “invincibility and experimentation” they are at a place where they can indulge in sexual activities without being seen by their parents. This also increases high chances to exposure of HIV pandemic. Another University culture is “power of lecturers”. At college or university it is believed that a lecturer owns a future of a student. This, therefore can give the lecturer a warrant to abuse his/her duty in exchange for sex with students.
One more, “Practical-Attachments” is another University Culture. When students have been allocated in various areas to do their practical studies. It has been observed that the majority, usually, males, they womanize. This, similarly contributes to the spread of HIV and AIDS pandemic. Lastly, on University Culture there is “selfboarding” generally, when girls are on selfboarding they pamper themselves into prostitution. “If your private part is private, why do you have to show it to everybody?” There are countless risk factors that contribute to the spread of HIV and AIDS pandemic. The discussed above are some of them. You may also include substance use and drug abuse and others alike.
In point of fact, there are three main ways of contracting HIV and AIDS. This include; unprotected sexual intercourse with infected person, mother to child transmission (MTCT) and body contact with infected blood. However, there is no cure for HIV and AIDS but there is treatment. When a person has been raped and he or she suspects herself to have the virus after being raped she can use Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP). PEP can also be used by health care workers or police after Road Traffic Accident (RTA) where there has been exposure to other people’s blood. It can also be used by discordant couples following condom bursts. However, PEP is given at earliest possible opportunity, and within 1-72 hours of exposure. PEP reduces the chance of contracting HIV by 80%. Conversely, there are certain dangers of using PEP for a long period such as; development of drug resistant strains, infections with drug resistant strains and side effects.
HIV Treatment, use of antiretroviral therapy (ART) do not cure HIV infection. They only allow the body’s defense system to suppress the infection and prolong life. Why take on HIV Test? HIV Test is a gateway to prevention, treatment, support and other treatment services. Currently, in Malawi there is a new technique for VCT that is, TEST and TREAT. That’s, newly diagnosed HIV positive? Start treatment! This benefits your own health and health of others. HIV Treatment reduces deaths related to HIV and AIDS, it reduces sexual and maternal transmission of HIV and reduces HIV related diseases.
Control and prevention of HIV and AIDS pandemic
- Abstinence, this is 100% perfect- method of preventing HIV and AIDS infection.
- Mutual faithfulness among partners, couples should avoid having two or more sexual partners: they should be faithful to one partner.
- Condom use, this also helps to prevent the transmission of HIV and AIDS. However, it is because condoms do burst at times. Therefore, it does not work 100%.
- Voluntary Male Medical Circumsion (VMMC)
This helps to prevent HIV and AIDS Transmission with, only 60%. Therefore, the most effective and best method of controlling and preventing HIV and AIDS infection is through ABSTINENCE!-100% perfect!
Last of all, students were encouraged to ask their questions, comments and suggestions to the director who also coordinated the public lecture.