Zambia’s new HIV infections plummet but number of infections still high globally

Estimates show that 1.3M Zambians are living with HIV, women are most affected, says minister

James Kunda   | 16.09.2021
Zambia’s new HIV infections plummet but number of infections still high globally Zambias health minister Sylvia Masebo at the ministry headquarters in Lusaka on Wednesday.

LUSAKA, Zambia

Zambian Health Minister Sylvia Masebo urged men Wednesday to take a leading role in supporting HIV response programs as the nation reported a significant drop in the number of new HIV infections among the adult population. 

“Key to all these efforts is finding men and making them part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Available evidence increasingly points to the fact that our men are missing in the response to HIV,” said Masebo, speaking in the capital Lusaka during an event to commemorate HIV testing.

She said estimates showed that 1.3 million Zambians are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and women are the most affected.

“The country ranks seventh on the top 10 list of the worst-hit countries in the world with the highest disease burden. This is due to the information gap that currently exists and has since called for concerted efforts in bridging the gap,” she added.

Launching HIV Testing, Counseling and Treatment Day, Masebo said despite the gains made so far, there is still the need to scale up the HIV response.

She said the Zambia Demographic Health Survey Report published in 2018 also indicated that the adult male population is lagging behind in active participation in HIV testing, counselling and treatment.

On the same occasion, Daphyne Williams, Zambia country coordinator for the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), disclosed that her government had this year spent $401 million on Zambia’s HIV response and since 2004 contributed $4 billion for the country’s national response to HIV.

UN resident coordinator in Zambia Coumba Mar Gadio said there is a need to address the stigma and discrimination in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Zambia has a population of over 18 million and of the 1.3 million living with HIV, 95.7% are aware of the status.

In addition, an estimated 92.4% are accessing antiretroviral treatment, 80.7% of whom are virally suppressed.

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