By FRANCINA PHIRI and STEVEN ZANDE
PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has said that he is happy the HIV test-and-treat policy has been received well in the country.
Mr Lungu said the test-and-treat policy is important and there was nothing wrong about being HIV positive.
He said girls and youths generally should open up and know their status and that anyone found to be HIV positive could still live a normal life as long they were on antiretroviral treatment.
President Lungu said HIV should be treated like any other disease such as malaria or tuberculosis.
He said this when a UNAIDS delegation paid a courtesy call on him at State House yesterday.
“I am happy with the response from the Zambian citizens on the HIV test and treat policy,” President Lungu said.
Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya said the number of people willing to test for HIV had increased from 64 to 84 per cent.
Dr Chilufya said that with enough sensitisation, people, especially those living in communities have known the importance of testing.
He said the ministry was also focusing on production of medicine locally to reduce on expenses of importing.
Dr Chilufya said the National Health Insurance policy was one of the ways of creating a healthy nation for Zambians.
Earlier, the UNAIDS hailed President Lungu for declaring routine HIV test and treatment, pledging more support towards Zambia’s drive to end HIV by 2030.
UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe said the President’s personal commitment should be commended because routine testing was crucial to curbing stigma, lengthening the lives of patients and this had a bearing on Zambia’s future development goals.
This was crucial to regional and continental efforts aimed at fighting HIV/AIDS.
“The decision taken by the President is the way to go. We should save more young people who hold the future of Zambia,” Mr Sidibe said.
He said this yesterday during a cooperation agreement signing ceremony with Foreign Affairs Minister Joe Malanji.
Mr Sidibe said UNAIDS would enhance bilateral relations with Zambia because the domestic stand against HIV was important to collective efforts in containing the killer disease.
He said the organisation would further enhance coordination between Zambia and various UN agencies with a view to help the country overcome HIV in any way possible.
Mr Malanji said HIV/AIDS was still a problem, especially among adolescents in Zambia and this had prompted the Government to introduce comprehensive sexuality education in schools.
Mr Malanji said drug abuse and other vices were among factors driving the spread of HIV/AIDS in schools, but Government expressed confidence the test and treat model under the adopted National AIDS framework 2018-18 would help forestall the spread of the disease.