Thursday, March 20, 2014

Zambia records 58% fall in new HIV infections
By Fridah Nkonde
Tue 03 Dec. 2013, 14:00 CAT

LOCAL government minister Emerine Kabanshi says the task of getting to zero new HIV infections, zero deaths, zero stigma and discrimination is daunting but achievable. And Kabanshi says Zambia is on the right track to reducing new HIV infections to zero.

During commemoration of the World AIDS Day 2013 under the theme 'Getting to zero in Zambia; zero new infections, zero AIDS deaths, zero stigma and discrimination,' in Lusaka on Sunday, Kabanshi said there was a national drop of 58 per cent in new infections.

"It will be interesting to see from the Zambia Demographic Health Survey how Lusaka district is fairing in reducing new infections to zero. There are, however, encouraging indications that with the 58 per cent decline in new infections countrywide, the HIV and AIDS prevalence may be averaging between 12 and 13 per cent," Kabanshi said.

She said there had also been an encouraging 56 per cent reduction in AIDS-related deaths since 2001 and a further 95 per cent reduction in the number of new HIV infections among children owing to the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme roll-out for pregnant mothers.

Kabanshi said the development was commendable and provided hope that with more concerted efforts, Zambia was on the right track towards reducing new HIV infections to zero.

"I am delighted to learn that Lusaka district has conducted an estimated 69,100 Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision as of August 31, 2013. This number represents 13 per cent of the estimated 531,323 national total of male circumcision undertaken as of August this year. This is commendable because medical male circumcision is said to have the potential of reducing HIV transmission by as much as 60 per cent," she said.

Kabanshi said the report from the Lusaka district community medical office showed that 98 per cent eligible persons living with HIV and AIDS had been successfully put on antiretroviral therapy.

She urged Zambians not to be complacent with the achievements made so far, adding that prevention of new infections was key to achieving the vision of having a friendly, green, healthy and prosperous city of Lusaka, free from the threat of HIV and AIDS.

Kabanshi said there was need to ensure that most vulnerable members of society such as young people, women, and girls are equipped with skills and knowledge that could help them abandon risky behaviours.

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