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The executive secretary of Mozambique’s National Council against HIV/AIDS (CNCS), a government entity, Francisco Mbofana, yesterday defended the “Mozambicanisation” of messages about the disease as the best way to contain the spread of the disease.
“In our strategic plan, there is the principle of ‘Mozambicanisation’ of messages, it is not only the translation of messages in local languages , but is also to insert the messages in the context of local socio-cultural practices,” Mbofana said.
The HIV/Aids index in Mozambique increased from 11.5 percent in 2009 to 13.2 percent in 2015, according to data from the Survey of Indicators of Malaria and HIV/AIDS Immunisation (IMASIDA) published in March of this year.
According to Mbofana, messages about HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment need to capitalise on good practices in local traditions and fight bad ones for better results in the fight against the disease.
“The initiation rites in the north [of Mozambique] are different from the south, and our message needs to take into account all these socio-cultural issues,” the CNCS executive secretary said.
The adaptation of the contents of the messages to the local reality, he went on, must mobilise initiation rite godparents, local leaders, traditional doctors and community radio.
Francisco Mbofana pointed to the decentralisation of strategies to combat HIV/AIDS to the local level as another important approach in containing the epidemic.
“There are challenges related to the decentralisation of the response. If we want to end the disease by 2030, we need to take the response to families, to communities, because things happen there, they happen in communities, in families,” Mbofana said.
HIV/AIDS strategies must reach out to more segments of the Mozambican population, but they should also have a greater impact on the most vulnerable groups, such as sex workers, homosexuals, adolescents and young people, and more mobile population groups such as truck drivers and military and paramilitary groups.
“The epidemic is widespread. We have to attack it as a whole, but we must also take into account particular groups, to begin to see a significant change,” Mbofana said.
Mbofana pointed out that women deserve more attention, since this group remains the most affected by the disease in Mozambique.
“Women are in a vulnerable situation. We have to ensure that both genders are at least equal so that women can negotiate safer sex and condom use,” he said.
More and better training opportunities and the economy would provide women with better protection, he added.
“We need to work to keep girls at school, them clearly we will see substantial changes in the occurrence of infections in women because they will have training and thus reduce their risk of exposure to disease,” Mbofana added.
The CNCS executive secretary said that the country had made progress in extending treatment to people infected by HIV/AIDS, increasing the life expectancy of patients, which may have contributed to the rise in prevalence.
“If people stay in treatment, they do not die, and technicians count the same people. This is what it is called prevalence, and this increase in prevalence may be associated with the greater impact of treatment.”
In the first quarter of this year, just over 1.1 million people in the country received antiretroviral treatment out of the 1.8 million people infected with HIV/AIDS.
Mbofana acknowledged that the country continues to register new infections annually, with 83,000 new cases registered in 2016.
“We continue to have new infections, because if we were just looking at more people living longer, prevalence would either hold steady or reduce a little, because people die too, even if not of HIV/AIDS,” he said. The emergence of new infections, he continued, faces the country with the challenge of keeping on with prevention as a way to prevent treatment programs from breaking down.
Mbofana pointed out that the reduction of funding for primary prevention (for uninfected people) meant that Mozambique must direct resources to secondary prevention for infected people, so that they do not spread the disease.
“Infected individuals, if they follow treatment properly, reduce their potential to transmit the virus by 96 percent, but this is still not enough. If we want to control the disease, we must continue to promote the use of condoms and a healthy lifestyle, and communicate the need for social and behavioural change,” Mbofana said.Source: Lusa
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