What is the social/environmental problem/issue that this project will address?
The Umunthu Foundation provides free HIV testing to people in the Bangwe and Limbe areas of Blantyre, Malawi. People testing positive for HIV are referred on to CD4 count testing services, to assess whether they need to begin treatment. There are no CD4 count testing/treatment services locally, so many people do not walk the long distance to these services, and so do not start antiretroviral (ARV) treatment in time, or at all. When people living with HIV have access to CD4 count testing and treatment services, they can begin taking ARVs on time, enabling them to lead long, healthy lives.
Can you give us some statistics on this problem?
The prevalence of HIV in Malawi is currently 10%, rising to 19% in the area covered by the Umunthu Foundation - the townships of Bangwe and Limbe in the Blantyre region. Since we began working with them in 2010, 29,325 people have been tested for HIV. 5,448 of these people have tested positive for HIV and been referred on to CD4 count testing services, many miles away.
What is your solution?
We’re fundraising for Umunthu to purchase a CD4 count testing machine, enabling them to combat this problem and save numerous lives. Through the purchase of a CD4 count machine, over 20,000 would have local access to regular CD4 count testing services. This would allow people to begin ARV treatment on time and have regular monitoring to ensure that their treatment regimen is effective, enabling people living with HIV to remain in good health. Providing this vital service would make Umunthu the only local provider of comprehensive testing and treatment services for people living with HIV.
How will you deliver this?
The infrastructure is already in place, an extension to Umunthu’s main office has been built, housing a CD4 count testing laboratory and an ARV distribution room. The price of the machine includes the cartridges and all of the equipment needed to begin testing immediately. The Pima machine is one that is used in the local context, is already known to Umunthu and is basic enough to avoid any problems with technical issues.