Preventing and Reducing New HIV Infections by 75% by 2020 in Zambia.

22 September 2017
UNFPA Zambia Representative Dr. Mary Otieno delivering remarks at the Global Coalition on HIV Prevention National Consultation

Friday, 22 September 2017: As part of ongoing national efforts to fast track HIV prevention, the Government of the Republic of Zambia through the Ministry of Health and National AIDS Council, and in partnership with UNFPA, held a National HIV Prevention Consultation to discuss progress and commitments towards Zambia's 2020 targets for HIV Prevention. 

Speaking at the official opening of the consultation, UNFPA Zambia Representative Dr. Mary Otieno underscored the significance of the deliberations, noting that "the outcome should offer a renewed commitment towards preventing and reducing new HIV infections by 75% by 2020 in Zambia".

"Zambia has shown tremendous progress in stabilizing the HIV epidemic over the last 15 years. Prevalence rates have decreased from 15.6% in 2002 to 12.3% in 2016. Equally, the rate of new infections has reduced by 66%. In this regard, the United Nations System in Zambia commends the Government of the Republic of Zambia, as the declining national HIV incidence depicts Zambia’s strides towards epidemic control. However, despite the large strides Zambia has made towards HIV epidemic control, new infections remain high, especially among young people and key populations" Dr. Otieno said.

Dr. Otieno further highlighted UNAIDS and UNFPA's partnership with UN Member States, civil society, philanthropists, academia and international organizations to generate support for a global HIV prevention coalition to be launched in October 2017 in Geneva. The Coalition will champion the Prevention 2020 Road Map for achieving the global commitments on HIV prevention in the 25 countries contributing to the global burden of HIV and AIDS.

In a speech delivered by the Director of Public Health; Minister of Health Dr. Chitalu Chilufya underscored that "despite significant progress in responding to treatment needs, new HIV infections remain high in Zambia".

According to the Zambia Population-Based HIV Impact Assessment Survey of 2016, Zambia has an HIV incidence rate of 0.66; which translates to 46,000 new HIV infections annually among adults aged 15-59 and more than 10,000 among 0-15 year olds.

Dr. Chitalu further reaffirmed Governments' commitment to "intensify measures aimed at addressing new infections by investing in comprehensive HIV programming, towards achieving national targets to end the HIV epidemic and reduce the number of new annual infections from 46,000 to 15,000 among adults aged 15-59 and from 10,000 to 670 among 0-15 year olds".

Key to note was the need for attention, investment and scaling  up of programmes  on 5 prevention impact pillars, that have been identified as critical towards achieving  a 75% reduction in  new HIV infections. These include voluntary medical male circumcision; pre-exposure prophylaxis; comprehensive condom programming; as well as focus on key populations and adolescent girls and young women.

Also speaking at the consultation, National AIDS Council (NAC) acting Director General Mr. Fortune Chibamba reaffirmed NAC's commitment to working with national stakeholders to reduce new HIV infections in line with the 2020 targets.