National AIDS Council calls for scaling up of HIV Testing

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First Lad Esther Lungu actualises her Sensitisation on VCT by Taking an HIV test during Commemoration of the International VCT day in Lusaka on June 30,2015 -Picture by THOMAS NSAMA
FILE: First Lad Esther Lungu actualises her Sensitisation on VCT by Taking an HIV test during Commemoration of the International VCT day in Lusaka on June 30,2015 -Picture by THOMAS NSAMA

The National AIDS Council (NAC) has called for vigorous HIV testing if the 90 percent treatment target by 2020 is to be attained.

Western Province Provincial AIDS Coordination Advisor Rosemary Masaku said to achieve the 90 percent treatment threshold there is need to equally scale-up the HIV testing target to 90 percent by 2020.

Speaking during a stakeholders’ orientation workshop organised by NAC in Nkeyema district yesterday, Ms Masaku said and if this is attained 73 percent of people with HIV worldwide will have viral suppression.

Ms Masaku said that it is important to sustain treatment for those who will test positive during the scale-up period so that the majority of people living with HIV can ultimately have a reduced viral load by 2020.

She said that with the suppressed viral load, people living with HIV will therefore not be able to transmit the virus as this has been proven by biomedical evidence and it has led to some people appearing to test negative because of their reduced viral load.

Ms Masaku said it is cardinal for people who are found to be HIV positive to start treatment early regardless of their CD4 count and urged couples not to divorce just because one has tested HIV positive.

She said even if one of the partners has tested positive they can still leave as discordant couples and they will not infect each other with HIV as long as the virus is remains suppressed through anti-retroviral medication.

Ms Masaku said that stigmatisation causes people who are HIV positive to hide their medicines in office drawers and all such places and it this that which ultimately causes them to become defaulters as they can only access their medication during working hours.

And Provincial AIDS Coordination Advisor has urged the District AIDS Task Force (DATF) in Nkeyema to form strategic partnerships and participate in resource mobilisation for HIV/AIDS programmes in the locality.

Ms Masaku said that the Nkeyema DATF should align their programmes to the district HIV/AIDS strategic and operational plan and they should proactively share information about organisations involved in HIV/AIDS interventions in the district.

She said the NAC has signed memoranda with a number of statutory bodies such as ZEMA and RDA which require that capital projects should have an HIV component which should be given to DATF and the Task Force has a duty to identify them.

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