HIV infections reducing-NAC

Zambia is one of the countries recording rapid reduction in new HIV infections, National Aids Council (NAC) chairperson Bishop Joshua Banda has said.

And Bishop Banda said NAC had identified persons living with disabilities as a key population that it would focus on, in an effort to Zero new infections, Zero stigma and discrimination and Zero HIV related deaths within this generation.

The NAC chairperson said his organisation was optimistic that the levels of infection would reduce as indicated by the UN reports in 2013 and that its project report was also pointing to the UN report.

He assured persons living with disabilities that the NAC would ensure that they were considered in all its efforts of curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS and TB.

He was speaking yesterday in Lusaka when he announced the appointment of Dr Jabbin Mulwanda as the new NAC director general.

Bishop Banda said Zambia was posed to win the HIV/AIDS fight within this generation as there had been significant gains recorded in national response.

“Based on the global report on AIDS 2013, significant gains have been recorded in national response, ranking Zambia one of the top six countries recording rapid reduction in new HIV infections particularly in Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTC) related initiatives.

“We now await the findings of the latest Demographic Health Survey (DHS) results to see how we have faired in other key areas. While we still have concerns over high incidence levels among young people, we believe that we are on the verge of a complete turnaround of beginning and can get to Zero new infections, Zero stigma and discrimination and Zero HIV related deaths within this generation,” Bishop Banda said.

He said NAC’s dream of a nation free of the threat of HIV by 2030 was achievable.

Meanwhile, Bishop Banda has admitted that his organisation was slow to attend to person with disabilities.

He however said NAC had now identified them as a key population that it would work with in combating the spread of HIV/AIDS.

“It is true we did not attend to this group of people much but NAC has since identified the disabled as a key population and as an organisation we want to assure the disabled that we have considered them in all areas as they would be assessing all our services,” Bishop Banda said.

He also said NAC was working with prisoners together with other stakeholders and that the response from the prisons was positive.

The chairperson also revealed that his orgainsation was over whelmed with the response from the public during the Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) week.

He said in Nyimba alone there were 10,000 people that went for VCT after conducting door to door sensitization activities and the results indicated that there was basic reduction in the infection levels.

Bishop Banda said such activities would continue throughout the country but indicated that youths aged between 15 and 24 were unwilling to go for VCT.

Bishop Banda further said the NAC was confident that Dr Mulwanda would help accelerate, consolidate and sustain the many gains recorded to date in HIV prevention, treatment care and support.

Before taking up the NAC job, Dr Mulwanda served as JHPIEGO regional HIV and Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) technical advisor providing technical assistance to several of JHPIEGO country offices.