The John Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics (JHPIEGO) has embarked on a project aimed at finding an estimated 364 000 people in the country who are HIV positive but are not aware of their status.
This will be made possible through the PEPFAR funded ‘The Gateway Project’ which will be implemented in Blantyre, Thyolo, Dedza, Ntcheu, Lilongwe, Mchinji, Mzimba, Nkhatabay and Rumphi.
The project which will run for four years aims at addressing unmet need for HIV testing services through effective innovative delivery models.
In 2015, Malawi adopted the UNAIDS 90, 90, 90 strategy which aims at eliminating HIV and AIDS as a public health problem by 2030.
The strategy states that by 2030, 90% of people living with HIV and AIDS will know their status, 90% living with HIV will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90% of people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have durable viral suppression.
While there has been progress in the last two 90s with 87% and 91% respectively achieved so far since the adoption, there is need for more work for the first 90 where the country is currently at 77%, about 13 percent short of the target.
It is estimated that there are 1, 089, 000 people living with HIV in Malawi with only 723, 000 currently on Antiretroviral drugs leaving out 364, 000 people living with HIV as they are not aware of their status.
“The gateway project is here to support the districts through the Ministry of Health and Population in closing that gap thereby achieving the first 90 target,” JHPIEGO District Team Lead Jimmy Chisema Midwa said.
The gate way project will target men and adolescents, Men Sleeping with Men and Female Sex Workers as key population, and Teachers and Police men as priority population.
Midwa said they decided to have their target audience bearing in mind that they are among the most difficult groups to be reached out with HTC services as they are mostly busy with their routine works that prevent them from seeking HTC services.