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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
04LILONGWE859 2004-09-03 09:45:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Lilongwe
Cable title:  

MALAWI ARMY SET TO GAIN GROUND IN HIV/AIDS FIGHT

Tags:   MCAP KHIV PINR MASS TBIO MI HIV AIDS 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					  UNCLAS E F T O SECTION 01 OF 02 LILONGWE 000859 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
NOFORN

HARARE FOR DATT
GABORONE FOR ODC
DEPT FOR INR/AA
DIA FOR AFRICA DIVISION/A. DEMOTTE
NHRC FOR DHAPP

E.O. 12958: DECL: X5
TAGS: MCAP KHIV PINR MASS TBIO MI HIV AIDS
SUBJECT: MALAWI ARMY SET TO GAIN GROUND IN HIV/AIDS FIGHT

REF: A. 03 LILONGWE 1190


B. 03 LILONGWE 336

SUMMARY
-------


1. (SBU/NF//FOUO) In a resource poor environment, the Malawi
Defense Force (MDF) highlights prevention as its main
campaign against HIV/AIDS, but has recently scaled up its
voluntary counseling and testing services as well as care and
treatment programs. USG assistance has helped position the
MDF to expand program offerings, as Global Fund and other
resources come on line. Although the MDF's infection rate
likely remains near fifty percent, strong leadership and
effective programs are mitigating the pandemic's impact and
are likely to regain the ground the MDF has lost to HIV/AIDS.
END SUMMARY.

RECRUITING A LOW INFECTION RATE, FOCUSING ON PREVENTION


--------------------------



--------------------------




2. (SBU/NF//FOUO) Since 2000 when the Malawi Defense Force
(MDF) began taking new recruits after a four year,
budget-driven hiatus, military entrance exams have included
an HIV/AIDS test. Although the MDF has not made the policy
public, applicants who test positive fail the health section
of the entrance exam and are not admitted to the military.
Once the new recruits begin basic training, they take
HIV/AIDS specific courses in an effort to keep new recruits
seronegative. In addition, HIV/AIDS components have been
added to all courses at the Malawi Armed Forces College
(MAFCO) and are taught to everyone from enlisted personnel to
seasoned officers. The current HIV/AIDS education and
prevention training material was funded by the Naval Health
Research Center (NHRC) through the Defense HIV/AIDS
Prevention Program (DHAPP).

VCT SERVICES SCALE-UP WITH USG SUPPORT


--------------------------




3. (SBU/NF//FOUO) Since NHRC/DHAPP began supporting the MDF
in FY03, the MDF has opened three voluntary counseling and
testing (VCT) centers at its three principal barracks. The
centers offer the range of VCT services, including rapid
testing, behavior counseling, and prevention education, and
are open to service members living on the barracks and
civilians in surrounding communities. To reduce the stigma
associated with individuals visiting VCTs, all three sites
have started offering basic clinical services as well.



4. (SBU/NF//FOUO) DHAPP funds have also helped support the
MDF's home-based care program. However, the program is not
yet fully operational because of hiccups with funding for
training from the National AIDS Commission (NAC).

USING NEW WEAPONS: ARV ROLL-OUT


--------------------------




5. (SBU/NF//FOUO) With the GOM's national mandate of two
percent of government agency budgets going to HIV/AIDS
programs, the MDF recently started offering an
anti-retroviral (ARV) therapy program for MDF personnel and
their families at the barracks in Lilongwe. The program
currently has 75 individuals enrolled and is supported by six
ARV-trained MDF medical professionals. MDF HIV/AIDS
Coordinator LTC Mafumu Gondwe said the program will be
expanding to other military facilities in October as a result
of Global Fund support.



6. (SBU/NF//FOUO) In recent months, the percentage of
infected visitors to the MDF's VCTs has been on the rise.
According to Gondwe, offering clinical services and the
provision of ARV therapy are the reasons. Gondwe says MDF
personnel are much more willing to come forward and face
HIV/AIDS when they know they have treatment options
available.

THANKFUL FOR USG SUPPORT


--------------------------




7. (SBU/NF//FOUO) Gondwe and the MDF's senior leadership
routinely thank the USG for supporting the military's
HIV/AIDS program. According to Gondwe, as the first to
support the MDF's program, the USG has positioned the
military to take advantage of Global Fund resources before
other GOM agencies. At present, the MDF is considered to be
a leader in the GOM on HIV/AIDS response, prevention, and
treatment.

COMMENT


--------------------------




8. (SBU/NF//FOUO) Resources have limited the size of the
MDF's HIV/AIDS program, but not its quality. As more
resources come on line, treatment and care programs will be
expanding, but the MDF plans to maintain its primary focus on
prevention. With the senior command committed to delivering
high quality HIV/AIDS programs and the recent influx of
resources, the MDF should see its infection rate decrease in
the medium-term. END COMMENT.
RASPOLIC