Editor's Comment

HIV/AIDS still needs novel ways of combat

THE move by authorities at the InterCity Bus Terminus in Lusaka to test travellers for HIV is one of the novel ways of fighting the epidemic, whose cure still eludes researchers.
The Lusaka provincial health authority has placed a testing centre at the inter-town and international bus terminus, which is always teeming with travellers.
So far, more than 1,500 people have been tested for HIV and 50 have been placed on anti-retroviral therapy (ART).
According to head of counselling Kasapo Liseli, the centre receives 20 people who seek the services it offers.
Most of the travellers who test at the centre are those who are in transit and it is said the number is increasing.
It is well known that to date, there is no known cure of HIV/AIDS, which is said to have globally claimed about 1.1 million, according to 2018 statistics.
The statistics further indicate that 1.7 million (1.4 million to 2.3 million) people became newly infected with HIV in the same period while 37.9 million people globally were living with HIV.
In Zambia, HIV is said to be the leading cause of death, especially in people aged between 15 and 59, with higher proportions amongst women than men.
At the moment, the national prevalence rate stands at 17 percent among people of the same age-group.
Given the above statistics, there still remains the need to put in place stringent measures to combat the spread of the pandemic, which has left a number of children orphaned.
Travellers, in particular, are at a higher risk of contracting the virus if they do not adhere to a strict lifestyle that can keep them safe.
In some instances, businessmen are always seeking ways to earn a livelihood while they postpone matters to do with their health.
It is in such cases that the initiative like the one put up by the Lusaka Province health authorities comes in handy to help those who seem to be eluded by time to attend to their health matters.
By the nature of InterCity bus station, the number of travellers who find themselves there is enormous, making it a perfect place to set up a centre.
There are also some travellers who set up temporary homes at the bus station and those are also at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, but they also have an opportunity to access the testing centre.
While this facility exists at the bus station, many travellers may not be aware of it and so there is need to continuously reach out to travellers through various methods to urge them to get tested and know their HIV status.
It is important that the staff who man the testing centre put in proactive measures that will encourage travellers to test.
This model of fighting the epidemic should also be replicated in other areas where members of the public are found in large numbers, in an effort to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS.
The challenge is to health personnel to spread their efforts and reach out to as many people as possible in more novel ways.
It is not easy for people to get to a health facility like a clinic or hospital to seek HIV testing services. Therefore, health workers have to reach out to the people or those they want will not go to them.
It is better to prevent the spread of the pandemic and keep more people from being infected so that resources that would otherwise be spent on providing treatment are diverted for other use.

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