MWAPE MWENYA, Lusaka
THE number of girls between the ages of 15 and 24 living with HIV has in the recent past doubled, Minster of Health Chitalu Chilufya has said.
At a media briefing last week, Dr Chilufya also said condom use among youths is quite low and this is contributing to new HIV infections.
“Do not be misled by statistics that shows that the infections have reduced, we need to take robust approach towards fighting the scourge. Zambia will attain epidemic control of HIV, it has put in place policies that will ensure that all persons are treated,” Dr Chilufya said.
However, he announced that HIV transmission from mother to child has reduced to less than three from 10 percent because pregnant women have been showing compliance to HIV testing and treatment.
Pregnant women undergo routine HIV check-up and treatment in antenatal clinics.
Meanwhile, Zambia National Women`s Lobby (ZNWL) has urged Government and other stakeholders to focus on sensitising communities especially youths on advantages of testing for HIV.
ZNWL board chairperson Beauty Katebe said in an interview that the move to compel individuals to test for HIV may not only help save lives but can also contribute to premature deaths when people are not ready for the results.
“Mandatory testing is good but we should not forget that there people who may not be ready to do so. They may end up nursing their illnesses at home instead of doing so at the health facilities,” Ms Katebe said.
She said lack of sensitisation may negatively affects implementation of the mandatory HIV testing programme if people are not made aware of the benefits of testing.