Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya says HIV/AIDS will be eliminated from Zambia by the year 2030.

Speaking when he rendered a ministerial statement to Parliament yesterday, Dr Chilufya announced that it was possible for Zambia to eliminate HIV within three years if the county was committed to a set of interventions.

“We need to commit ourselves to a set of collective action in order to attain epidemic control and eventual elimination of HIV/AIDS otherwise, it is possible over our watch to eliminate HIV/AIDS within three years, if Zambia is committed to this set of interventions, we can attain epidemic control and by the year 20230, we will eliminate HIV/AIDS and this government has already come up with policies that will drive this agenda,” Dr Chilufya said.

He revealed that Zambia would start manufacturing ARVs and other essential drugs by the end of the year.

“This is a call to all of us, it is a set of action that can move all of us to attain epidemic control of HIV/AIDS and eventually elimination of the disease. We need to harness our national potential forging strong partnerships with the community, the church, civil societies and other ministries such as the Ministry of National Guidance, Community Development, Education and indeed all stakeholders. We have further projected that we will be able to treat all people who will test positive for HIV/AIDS and in embracing private sector participation, Zambia has attracted investors who have set a manufacturing plant for production of essential drugs and ARVS within the course of this year,” Dr Chilufya said.

He urged people living with HIV to stop substituting the use of ARVs with prayers and other herbs.

“Mr Speaker allow me on this platform to state that one of the major challenges we are facing in the combat of HIV/AIDS are people who are stopping to take ARVs in preference for herbal products. This practice must stop because we have seen a lot of people deteriorate when they were doing well on ARVs and after starting herbal products they actually deteriorate. So Mr Speaker the use of herbs for the treatment of HIV must be fought. Similarly, there are some people who claim they are healed after being prayed for and they stop taking ARVs and then in few years they succumb to optimistic infections and die. Mr Speaker, the Church must be a partner in the fight against HIV/AIDS and must ensure that we use that platform to deliver appropriate messages to the people so no herbs or indeed other processes are actually the substitute that we have put in place in the treatment against HIV/AIDS,” Dr Chilufya said.

And responding to a question from Chiengi Member of Parliament, Given Katuta, who wanted to know if government had approved the Sondashi Formula as a cure for AIDS, Dr Chilufya said there was no proven cure for AIDS yet.

“Mr Speaker, there is no known cure for HIV/AIDS yet, no herbal product has been proven as a cure for HIV and there is no local product that today has earned the reputation as an efficacious drug against HIV/AIDS in terms of absolute cure. All herbal products or conventional products are subjected to the same routine when it comes to approval for use for patients. So while we are testing, no drug can be announced as an efficacious drug so I want to state that there is no herb today and there is no concoction in this country today that has been proved as a cure for HIV/AIDS,” said Dr Chilufya.

Dr Chilufya also encouraged all citizens to test for HIV.

Dr Chilufya also disclosed that about 1.2 million people were living with HIV in Zambia as at the end of 2016 with Lusaka and Western Provinces having the highest HIV prevalence rates of 16.1 percent and 16 percent respectively.

He said Muchinga and North Western provinces had the least prevalence rates of 5.9 and 6.9 percent as of 2016 statistics and revealed that more than 3,300,000 people accessed HIV counseling and testing services against the annual target of 4,116,679 by the end of the 2016.