-First Lady Maureen Mwanawasa says the HIV prevalence in Zambia had declined among 20 to 24-year- old pregnant women in urban areas where it dropped from 30 percent in 1994 to 24 percent in 2004 with only 14 percent of the estimated 460,000 pregnant women tested for HIV.

Mrs Mwanawasa who participated in a two-day United Nations (UN) High-level meeting on HIV/AIDS at the UN Headquarters in New York which closed on Wednesday, said in 2007, 5 percent of the estimated women received an HIV test adding that 47 of the 75 850 pregnant women estimated to be living with HIV received ARVs to prevent transmission to their children, a substantial increase compared with only 18 percent in 2004.

This is contained in a Statement released to ZANIS in Lusaka today by First Secretary for Press at Zambia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations (UN)in New York, Moses Walubita.

In her presentation on country specific achievements, the First lady outlined the main areas of promotion and advocacy of the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS(OAFLA)to which she is Patron through the current ” Save the Unborn Child of the First Ladies Campaign”, as the Prevention of PMTCT, Increase activities to expand HIV/AIDS testing, and promoting the use of microbicides and the female condom.

On key findings in the 2008 progress report themed”Towards Universal Access”, Mrs Mwanawasa noted that the findings were encouraging but that there was still a long way to go.

The key findings in the 2008 progress report indicate a number of interventions that were undertaken in 2007 on Prevention from Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT). The Report show that,

Global and national political commitment to scale up interventions for preventing PMTCT had intensified in recent years, and an increasing number of countries were expanding their national programmes.
An estimated 18 percent of pregnant women in low and middle income countries received an HIV test in 2007 and 10 percent in 2004.
An estimated 33 percent pregnant women living with HIV received antiretrovirals to prevent transmission to their children in 2007, a substantial increase compared with only 10 percent in 2004. The most significant expansion was in sub-saharan Africa.
The number of children receiving anti retro viral therapy increased from about 75 000 in 2005 to almost 200 000 in 2007 among other interventions.

The key findings were as a result of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS adopted at the UN Special Session on the pandemic in 2001 where countries pledged to reduce the proportion of infants with HIV by 50 percent by 2010 and ensure that 80 percent of pregnant women attending antenatal care have access to essential services to reduce mother-to-child transmission.

The First Lady explained that the objectives were to identify critical elements necessary for the successful scaling up of national PMTCT programmes, generate discussion regarding which elements should be replicated and which should be avoided, and advise national leaders on future directions for programme expansion and reaffirm targets and goals for universal access to PMTCT.

And featuring at a roundtable discussion at a luncheon hosted by the First Lady of Rwanda, Mrs Jeannette Kagame, who is the High Representative for the African AIDS Vaccine Programme (AAVP), Mrs Mwanawasa said in Africa, Zambia was one of the countries hard hit by AIDS with a prevalence rate of 14 percent.

The First Lady said although there was a drop from 16 percent, more women than men who were affected in Zambia, the epidemic was generalised with a high prevalence in urban than rural areas adding that the principle modes of transmission were through heterosexual contact and mother to child transmission.

She said blood had been made safe through mandatory screening while in the area of research, the Zambian Government initiated observational studies in transmission remedies using the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, though no cure had been found.

Mrs Mwanawasa further explained that the Zambian government had been engaged in the vaccine trial for the promising candidate vaccine under the African AIDS Vaccine Programme (AAVP) and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and microbicides research had been conducted.

The vaccine trials, the First Lady said were part of the multi-centre research in many countries including Zambia, South Africa, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya. She said University Teachibng Hospital (UTH) Consultant Pediatrician Dr Elwyin Chomba was Zambia’s Principal Investigator adding that the country has research centres in Lusaka, Ndola and Kitwe.

The First Lady told the gathering that research was done in partnership with the Zambia Emory HIV Research Project and so far phases 1 and 2 have been conducted with an overwhelming response but noted that early indications have confirmed that safety and efficacy were yet to be determined.

She added that the Zambian government has set up systems to monitor and regulate research through the National Research and Ethics Committee and the Bio Data Monitoring Board.

While in New York, Mrs Mwanawasa was interviewed by the United Nations Radio and BBC Afrique. In both interviews, Mrs Mwanawasa highlighted a number of issues on the AIDS pandemic in Zambia and her role as OAFLA President. The First Lady had also a meeting with the United Nations Joint Organisation on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Executive Director, Dr Peter Piot.
ZANIS/ENDS/CLM……..DRY

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Maureen is not competent enough to speak on issues relating to HIV.she should let the experts do so otherwise she will continue misleading he masses.

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  2. Winston Zulu, was in Cleveland Ohio, Thurs June 12 to speak at an AIDS taskforce.

    He mentioned that two-thirds of the peopleIN Zambia have been affected by HIV/TB. He says was successfully treated. Just wondering how accurate that information is.Any one know???

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  3. # 1, Maureen is kind of correct. The prevalence of HIV among pregnant women aged 20 to 24 in Zambian urban areas was expertly estimated at 31.5% in 1994, 28.5% in 1998, 25.0% in 2002 and 23.5% in 2004. Figures are available for other age groups and regions as well. Zambia happens to have one of the best data on HIV prevalence among pregnant women, dating back to 1993. The first lady did her research on this one.

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  4. #3, Well, we’ve all been AFFECTED in one way or another by this epidemic…more like 3 thirds instead of the 2-thirds. But only about 15% of the population is INFECTED. About 85% remains free of the virus, and therefore offers a perfect opportunity for remaining free of the killer disease.

    About his HIV/TB co infection, yes the man’s TB has been cured. I don’t know about the HIV though.

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  5. talk of the sondashi formula,people say its not being passed coz huge pharmaceutical companies are making billions of dollars making bogus arv’s for africans.in africa people chew arv’s like smarties but in developed countries its just one pill a day.wat do u think personally?i dont know wat to believ myself

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  6. I look at Maureen as a lobbyist, and indeed why not if she is in a priviledged position that would steer help for Zambians who can benefit. It would actually be a sin for her to not use her position and ability while she can. While she may not be a specialist, let us appreciate her efforts because she is not even aiming at taking over the roles of the so called specialists but complementing their efforts. Let us see the glass as being half full rather than half empty.

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  7. #6 Well, yeah you’re correct. The Africans can’t help it but take them like smarties. Most of them only get to know of their status after a severe attack of another disease, a disease that also dramatically adds to the depletion of immunity, such that the doctors have no choice but to prescribe stronger and more frequently taken immune boosters. But I think taking of the stuff is lessened as immunity improves, but I ain’t sure. Monitoring of those on ARV is quite strict lest they misuse the drug and develop resistance.

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  8. Come on guys. Do you expect the first lady to do the research herself? There are experts in government who do that stuff. All she has to do is read the report. So it doesn’t really matter who says it. The figures are based on country statistics and they are not of her own making.

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  9. #3 that info is quiet true but he is now a TB advocate and so may exaggerate as that is his source of income now and not HIV/AIDS per say. The key word there is “affected” and not “infected” and so it is true at a third or even the whole population as we surely have been affected.

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