HIV/AIDS in Zambia

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Zambia is experiencing a generalized HIV/AIDS epidemic, with a national HIV prevalence rate of 17 percent among adults ages 15 to 49. The primary modes of HIV transmission are through heterosexual sex and mother-to-child transmission. HIV prevalence rates vary considerably within the country. Infection rates are highest in cities and towns along major transportation routes and lower in rural areas with low population density. HIV prevalence among pregnant women can range from less than 10 percent in some areas to 30 percent in others. In general, however, young women ages 25 to 34 are at much higher risk of being infected by HIV than young men in the same age group. The prevalence rates are 12.7 and 3.8 percent, respectively.[1] Risk for the disease is higher for people with sensory, intellectual, physical and psychosocial disabilities, despite the 2012 Persons with Disabilities Act.[2] Other at-risk populations include military personnel, people in prostitution, truck drivers, and people who work in fisheries. Although men who have sex with men have a higher risk of HIV transmission than those who do not, the government-operated National AIDS Control Program does not address same-sex relationships.[1] While Zambia’s national prevalence rate remains high and shows no sign of declining, the country has been noted for its significant increases in antiretroviral treatment (ART) access.[3]

With about one million Zambians living with HIV/AIDS and 200,000 of these persons requiring ART, the Government of the Republic of Zambia has prioritized making ART available to all Zambians in need. A recent rapid assessment of the Zambian ART program identified several important constraints including: inadequate human resources for counseling, testing, and treatment-related care; gaps in supply of drugs in the public sector; increase in value of the Zambian Kwacha; lack of adequate logistic/supply chain systems; stigma that hinders people from seeking treatment and care; lack of information on the availability of treatment services; a high level of misinformation about ART; need for a continuous funding stream as an accumulation of patients on ART results in a growing need for support; high cost of ART to patients, despite subsidies from the public sector; lack of referral between counseling and testing services and ART; and lack of referral between home-based care services, testing and ART.[3]

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  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ "Zambia: People With Disabilities Left Behind in HIV Response". Human Rights Watch. 15 July 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "2008 Country Profile: Zambia". U.S. Department of State (2008). Accessed August 25, 2008.  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.