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Jenipher Mwanguku


A national assessment of the impact of HIV in Malawi, carried out by
the Malawian ministry of Health in 2015-2016, found that HIV prevalence among
adult women (15 years old and above) was 12.8%, compared to 8.2% of Malawian adult
men, which indicates that women are more at risk (Malawi AIDS response, 2015).

The following are some of the barriers to HIV prevention for the AGYW in
Malawi which are leading to high HIV prevalence rates, despite government entities like the National Aids Commission taking a leading role in

Culture- this is especially true for AGYW in rural areas who do not
have access to HIV preventive tools like condoms because the decision must be
made by the husband, who culturally is the head of the family. So for a woman to
get a condom, she has to get consent from him, otherwise she would be considered
as a “prostitute”.  And because of that, many AGYW are not exposed to
these tools and services, and don’t talk of sexual issues with our parents who would
otherwise be the best advisors whilst we are growing up. As a result, we live
in darkness and tend to get advice within our peers or media, which most of the
times is inaccurate and misleading hence putting most AGYW at risk of getting

Lack of professionalism amongst health workers- most health care
workers are judgmental. Instead of providing services, they take up the
advisory role more which ends up forcing AGYW to abstain and for the fear of
that, most of the AGYW just engage in unsafe sex hence exposing them to HIV.

Poverty- most of the population in our country is poor but most of us
AGYW want to live a life as if we are rich. We want high standard things
which we do not or can not afford on our own hence “Blessers” (Sugar daddies)
do the needful and in exchange they ask for unprotected sex which we always
give in for the fear of being seen too poor amongst our peers. 

Peer pressure and ignorance- Most AGYW fails to make their own
decisions because of either what their role models, friends are doing or what
the majority around them is doing. The fear of being considered cheap amongst
other peers.