In collaboration with counselors from Malawi’s Ministry of Health, HELP hosts an Awareness Campaign to share important information about HIV/AIDS and to facilitate testing at the Nandumbo Health Centre. On a quarterly basis, Community Extension Officers dedicate two weeks toward minimizing the spread of HIV/AIDS throughout the eighteen villages in the catchment area. Group meetings with community members are held in churches, schools and even under mango trees. Extension Officers use discussion, music and drama to convey their message.
The first week of the Awareness Campaign is dedicated to educating the community about different methods of prevention, treatment of the disease, the importance of tolerance toward those living with HIV/AIDS, and prevention of mothers to child transmission. The second week is held at the Nandumbo Health Centre, where HELP’s extension workers team up with the medical staff to encourage and facilitate testing.
Prior to the awareness campaigns, the HIV/AIDS Testing and Counseling Centre had only tested 355 people in two years. Since the awareness campaign began in October of 2009, 1,536 people have already been tested. Of the total amount tested (1903), 79 people or 5.14% were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Men were much more likely to get tested (1145) than women (758) and about half (371) of the women tested were pregnant. Future campaigns will emphasize the importance of testing women.
*UNAIDS/WHO, 2008: http://apps.who.int/globalatlas/predefinedReports/EFS2008/full/EFS2008_MW.pdf