The Government has said that it has replaced the National HIV Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) with HIV Testing, Counselling and Treatment (HTCT) Day on its calendar of events to be commemorated every year.
In a statement reased to the media by Director Public Health/Ministry of Health Spokesperson, Dr Kennedy Malama , the Ministry of Health said that the shift from VCT to HTCT is to forge a linkage between HIV testing and treatment as part of the fast-track crusade to end AIDS by 2030.
Belos is the full statement
PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 11, 2017
Test and Treat: Towards Ending AIDS
The Government of the Republic of Zambia through the Ministry of Health has replaced the National HIV Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) with HIV Testing, Counselling and Treatment (HTCT) Day on its calendar of events to be commemorated every year.
The shift from VCT to HTCT is to forge a linkage between HIV testing and treatment as part of the fast-track crusade to end AIDS by 2030. This is aimed at initiating persons living with HIV on Anti-Retroviral Therapy upon diagnosis of the infection.
His Excellency Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia will grace the inaugural HTCT Day on August 15, 2017 at the Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC) in Lusaka.
The theme for HTCT this year is; “Test and Treat: Towards Ending AIDS.” This theme is complemented by the slogan of leaving no one behind entailing the universal nature of covering all sub population groups.
The new approach of offering treatment and care to persons infected with HIV immediately after diagnosis allows Zambia to pursue the United Nations Joint Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) led 90, 90, 90 campaign.
This campaign is translated as 90% of persons living with HIV knowing their HIV status, 90 per cent of persons who test positive for HIV start on treatment and 90 per cent of those on treatment achieve viral load suppression to undetectable levels.
The 90, 90, 90 targets were made through a United Nations General Assembly High Political level Declaration in 2011 to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.
The policy of offering treatment to everyone diagnosed with HIV provides three major benefits namely;
1. Raising the quality of lives,
2. Forestalling progression of individuals from their HIV positive status to AIDS stage and
3. Averting new HIV infections through viral suppression.
Additionally, prompt treatment of HIV restores individuals’ immune system.
The test and treat strategy breaks many barriers which previously hindered or interrupted HIV interventions.
Specifically, test and treat eliminates the need for determining CD4 count as a requirement prior to commencement of treatment, avoids delaying ART in settings without CD4 testing facilities, simplifies treatment and facilitates expansion of ART services (task-shifting and decentralization) and generally improves retention in care for people living with HIV.
Under the old VCT practice, little attention was paid to extension of care and support services to individuals diagnosed HIV positive as more emphasis was placed on testing for HIV.
During the Test and Treat campaign, the general public will access various promotive, preventive and treatment services.
The Ministry of Health and the National HIV/AIDS/STI/TB Council (NAC) has mobilized partners countrywide to scale up testing and treatment activities prior to August 15 and beyond to ensure maximum number of people access the two services at the same time.
ISSUED BY: Director Public Health/Ministry of Health Spokesperson
Dr Kennedy Malama