“The government in its quest to achieve epidemic control of HIV/AIDS will continue to focus interventions on the community. The market health initiatives that have been introduced have yielded very good results and have resulted in many citizens knowing their status right in their work places”.
Minister of Health Dr. Chitalu Chilufya said this during the commemoration of this year’s HIV Counseling, Testing and Treatment Day which was celebrated under the theme, “Ending AIDS Starts with Me; Leaving No One Behind”.
Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ) through President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) partnership has been working with the Ministry of Health (MOH) to implement the Community Health Initiative which was recently launched by the President of the Republic of Zambia, Edgar Chagwa Lungu at Michael Chilufya Sata Market. The initiative will target 18,000 people who conduct business at the market with HIV services.
Dr. Chilufya said, “I want to thank the team that is running the Community Health Initiative with our partners, a lot of our people who are testing positive for HIV are now being commenced on treatment the same day. Notably also is an increase in health services targeting adolescents. Through the launch of the “Adolescent and Young People Outreach Health Services Program to Colleges and Universities”, the Ministry aims at addressing the critical health concerns of adolescents in the country. I want to thank the team at the Ministry and our partners for introducing this initiative for our adolescents in universities, colleges and communities to make sure they reach out to this peculiar demographic grouping”.
Dr Chilufya said Zambia was on track to attaining epidemic control of HIV/AIDS because of the great partnership with the American government and the American people who have supported HIV/AIDS programming in Zambia. “Focusing on today, we celebrate the HIV, Counseling, Testing and Treatment Day under the theme “Ending AIDS Starts with Me; Leaving No One Behind”.
This theme is addressing all of us and It is important that we remember that we are on the verge of winning the fight against HIV/AIDS. We are in the end game, but all of us with no one left behind must play our cards correctly if we are to win the war. It is important that for us to reach the 200,000 people who don’t know their HIV status and emphasize the need for all of us to know our HIV status. This day must summon all of us to table and ensure that those who are negative remain negative”.
“I want to make a special appeal to the male folk that the ZAMPHIA population survey, reported that only 65% men knew their HIV status compared to 79% females who know their status. It is obvious that men need to enhance their participation in this fight against HIV/AIDS as men are often reported to be missing in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
And U.S Ambassador to Zambia, Daniel L. Foote said, “according to UNAIDS, 1.1 million Zambians have died from HIV/AIDS since 1990. The U.S government through PEPFAR began supporting Zambia in 2004 and 3,500 people were on treatment while 70,000 died from HIV/AIDS. Last year, only 17,000 died. While we have made enormous progress, 17,000 is too big a number lose lives not to talk of one. This anti-HIV/AIDS programme is life-saving that over one million Zambians are on treatment today and if they continue on treatment, they can live normal lives.
Ambassador Foote said there have been many advances since 2004 in HIV services
and encouraged all men who felt discouraged to visit a health facility to seek health services. “I want to encourage you to know your status and not only that, the most important part is there will be few viruses in your blood and you will be undetectable, we refer to this undetectable=Untransmitable (U=U)