VCT services in Zambia still very low-Kapyongo

THE uptake for Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) services in Zambia is still very low, says Minister of Local Government and Housing Stephen Kampyongo.

Mr. Kampyongo said that only 41 percent of the Zambian population knew their HIV status and that the testing rates for men were lower than those for women.

In a speech read for him by his deputy minster Dawson Kafwaya, Mr. Kampyongo said that Lusaka city, which had a population of 3 million, had an estimated HIV prevalence rate of 16.3 percent which was above the national prevalence rate of 13.3 percent.

He said that the disease burden was much higher in females than in men.

Mr. Kampyongo who was speaking to commemorate the World VCT Day reminded the people ‘that VCT services were free in Zambia and that they were available and accessible at every nearest public health institution throughout the year’.

He explained that VCT was an important entry point to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support and that it empowered a person to make healthy informed decisions.

Mr. Kampyongo said that the national target was to have 90 percent of all people living with HIV to know their status by the year 2020.

And Lusaka Province Medical Officer Dr. Kennedy Malama, in a speech read on for him by Mr. Emmanuel Mwamba disclosed that there were about 1.2 million people living with HIV in Zambia, which constituted about 3 percent of the people living with HIV globally.

“The percentage of people living with HIV/AIDS increases with education and wealth and there are about 1.2 million people living with HIV infection in Zambia,” he said.

Dr.  Malama revealed that Copperbelt Province had the highest prevalence rate at 18.2 percent while Muchinga Province had the lowest at 6.4 percent.

“Of the 1.2 million people living with HIV in Zambia, 760 000 were accessing life-saving ARVs representing 63 percent coverage,” he said.

Dr. Malama said that Lusaka province had about 180 000 people receiving ARVs and that 16 000 were children.

And Kazungula District Commissioner Pascalina Musokotwane said there was need to embark on innovative interventions in the fighting against the HIV/AIDS scourge.

Speaking during the World VCT Day held at Musokotwane School ground on Thursday, Ms Musokotwane said people must not discriminate against one another.

“I have received reports of people who are discriminating those who are HIV positive. I urge all of you to report the officers who are discriminating patients to authorities,” she said.