HEALTH minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya says there is need to look at disturbing statistics regarding HIV/AIDS in Eastern Province. And American Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote says being HIV positive is no longer a death sentence. Launching the Eastern Province HIV epidemic control surge campaign for 2018/2019 at Mpezeni Park in Chipata yesterday, Dr Chilufya said there was no need for the country to relax in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“We will make a call to action in Eastern Province because of some disturbing statistics that are there in the province. The HIV/AIDS prevalence in the province today stands at 8. 3 per cent and that translates to about 101,000 people living with HIV/AIDS. Out of these people, only 78 per cent currently are on treatment and only 58 per cent are virally suppressed. The efforts made in Eastern Province are commendable but there are some disturbing statistics that we need to look at,” he said.
Dr Chilufya said more than half the children who are HIV positive have not been diagnosed.
“Out of those that have been diagnosed, less than half of those children are on treatment. Secondly, less than one third of men know their status, that is disturbing,” he said. “Thirdly, adolescence today is the face of HIV/AIDS in the country and in Eastern Province, this is disturbing,” he said.
Dr Chilufya called for the escalation of efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS. He said the surge campaign was aimed at departing from the business as usual approach in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
And speaking when he paid a courtesy call on Eastern Province administration office before the launch of the campaign, Ambassador Foote urged the people to go for HIV testing.
“Please tell your brothers, sisters, your spouses, your friends to get tested. We are almost going towards a real change about HIV/AIDS from a death sentence to a chronic condition that people can live a normal life,” he said.
Ambassador Foote said the objective of the “Surge” was to motivate and focus efforts towards the common goal of reaching HIV epidemic control by 2020.
“This marks the fourth surge campaign in Zambia, with sister surges in Lusaka, Copperbelt and Southern Province. The increasing momentum is inspiring and provides a strong foundation for the country to achieve its goal,” he said.
Ambassador Foote said the US government, through PEPFAR, remained a strong supporter of Zambia’s fight against HIV.