Zambia records reduction in HIV/AIDS prevalence
Zambia has continued to record a steady decline in the spread of the HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) due to an increase in access to quality interventions.
And the country has also continued to record significantly attained progress at all levels of HIV/AIDS interventions particularly in diagnosis, treatment and care.
According to the Ministry of Health’s National Health Strategic Plan (NHSP) of 2011 to 2016, the HIV/AIDS prevalence in the adult population has declined from 16. %1 in 2002 to14.3% as of 2007.
The National Health Strategic Plan which was released by Health Minister Joseph Kasonde in Lusaka recently further indicates that an estimated 16.1 % females and 12.3 % males are infected with HIV in both urban and rural area.
The urban areas have however continued to have higher HIV prevalence of about 20% as compared to the rural areas which are recording a prevalence of about 10%.
Moreover,(NHSP also indicates that new HIV infections are projected to increase from an estimated 67,602 adults in 2006 to 72,019 in the year 2015 translating into approximately 185 new HIV infections every day.
Out of these daily HIV infections, an estimated 10% of HIV transmission is from parent to child mostly occurring during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding.
In the five year plan, Government has since put up strong measures to scale up interventions particularly in Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT, Abstinence, Be Faithful and Condom Use (ABC) Strategies, Male Circumcision (MC), Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTC) Among Others.
Currently over 900,000 Zambians are living with HIV and over 250,000 are receiving Anti Retro Therapy (ART).
And Government has taken the fight against HIV/AIDS countrywide very seriously.
Minister of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Wilbur Simuusa pointed out that the HIV virus is affecting the ability of all Zambians to pursue their goals.
Mr Simuusa was speaking in Lusaka yesterday at the swearing in ceremony of 34 American Peace Corps new volunteers who will be in the country for two years to work in six provinces to address local issues especially those focused on forestry to improve the livelihood of many Zambians especially in rural areas
Mr Simuusa observed that government and other institutions were losing a lot workers because of the disease.
He pointed out that the pandemic cannot be fought by one ministry or organization but requires concerted efforts from all in the country.
Mr Simuusa noted that the disease must be addressed by all in Zambia if the fight against HIV/AIDS was to be won.
He said the new 34 Peace Corps volunteers as they work with communities throughout Zambia, will see and feel the impact that the HIV/AIDS has on the lives of Zambians, families and the workforce.
Mr Simuusa also added that the volunteers who will be in the country to work in six provinces to improve the livelihood of many Zambians should also help address the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
He pointed out that with all the Zambian government’s and the American Peace Corps hard work, collaboration and partnership can continue to save lives of men, women and children who are infected and affected by HIV/AIDS in Zambia.
Mr Simuusa said government looks forward to working with the Peace Corps volunteers for years to come and anticipates a close collaboration and cooperation between the two.
Meanwhile, American Ambassador to Zambia Mark Storella said the American government works hand in hand with the Zambian government to reduce the transmission of HIV and to improve the quality of life of those infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS Zambia.
Mr Storella urged the Peace Corps volunteers to pursue HIV/AIDS prevention with the greatest energy and enthusiasm.