Editor's Comment

Own fight against AIDS

HIV result.

AS A member of the global community, Zambia has acceded to the 90-90-90, an ambitious treatment target to help end the AIDS epidemic.Government, with the help of the international community, has made great strides in meeting the 90-90-90 targets set by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS, the chief advocate for accelerated, comprehensive and coordinated global action on the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Through UNAIDS, Zambia has agreed with the rest of the world that by 2020, 90 percent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status.
By 2020, 90 percent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained anti-retroviral therapy and by 2020, 90 percent of all people receiving anti-retroviral therapy will have viral suppression.
At the halfway point to the 2020 targets, Zambia has scored some successes but challenges still remain in meeting the 90-90-90 at country level.
For instance, the latest data from the United States-funded Zambia Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (ZAMPHIA) shows that the country is already approaching control of the HIV epidemic, something that seemed impossible less than a decade ago.
Based on the ZAMPHIA data, 67.3 percent of People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) in Zambia know their HIV status.
Of those who know their HIV status in Zambia, 85.4 percent of PLHIV are receiving life-saving Antiretroviral Treatment (ART). Of the PLHIV on ART in Zambia, 89.2 percent are virally suppressed.
Despite this, more needs to be done if Zambia is to match the global ambition.
That is why Vice-President Inonge Wina said yesterday that deliberately targeting mothers, children and other vulnerable groups will expedite Zambia’s crusade towards ending AIDS.
Mrs Wina launched the HIV Self-Testing Framework to be used by healthcare workers, as well as community workers in providing an opportunity for people to test themselves discreetly and conveniently in Lusaka yesterday.
She emphasised the need to target efforts appropriately to ensure efficient utilisation of available resources as it will act as a guide in ensuring that quality of service is upheld.
The largest gap in our fight against HIV remains people knowing their status.
Knowing one’s status is the beginning to HIV treatment and it is a very critical target under the 90-90-90 to which Zambia has subscribed.
Therefore, the launch of the self-test kit is a milestone towards the two 90s.
The HIV Self-Testing Framework, to be used by healthcare workers, as well as community workers in providing an opportunity for people to test themselves discreetly and conveniently, is the way to go.
This will act as a guide in ensuring that quality of service is upheld.
For Zambia to reach the 90-90-90 targets in one and half years, there is need for more investment in the fight against HIV.
All line ministries, the private sector, civil society, non-governmental organisations, partners, leadership at all levels and the media should continue playing a part to achieve epidemic control by 2020.
Like Mrs Wina said, all these organisations are made up of individuals and each one of us belongs to a family.
This falls in line with the theme: My Family, My Nation, My Responsibility!
Zambians should own this theme in their homes, communities and places of work to end AIDS.

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