The World Health Organization (WHO) and the joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has commended government for implementing the compulsory HIV testing policy.
In a joint statement issued by WHO media representative Dr Lastone Chitembo and UNAIDS representative Narmada Acharya today, the two health bodies said the proclamation of the policy was in line with the key principles of consent, confidentiality, counselling, correct results, and connection to HIV prevention, treatment and care (5Cs principles).
“We commend the government of the Republic of Zambia for its commitment to ensuring that people in Zambia know their status, have universal access to Antiretroviral therapy and are virally supressed in line with the UNAIDS 90-90-90 target by 2020; and achieve the overall goal to ending AIDS by 2030 as a public health threat,” the statement read.
“Zambia has adapted the WHO consolidated guidelines on HIV testing services (HTS) in line with the key principles of Consent, Confidentiality, Counselling, Correct results, and Connection to HIV prevention, treatment and care (5Cs principles).”
WHO and UNAIDS have also pledged continued collaboration with government and other stakeholders to provide technical support and guidance in the review and dissemination of HIV testing services and protocols among others.
“Zambia has been implementing Provider Initiated Testing and Counseling (PITC) since 2008. WHO and UNAIDS welcome government’s call to reinforce the implementation of universal routine HIV testing in line with the above 5C principles. In this regard, WHO and UNAIDS will continue collaborating with the government and other stakeholders to provide technical support and guidance in the review and dissemination of HIV testing services protocols and standard operating procedures to ensure that they are in line with the global recommendations of human rights-based approaches,” further read the statement.
“Of the estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV in Zambia, only 69 percent know their status. There are therefore approximately 400 000 people who do not know that they are living with HIV. The situation calls for intensive, innovative, and effective HIV testing strategies that are in line with WHO and UNAIDS global guidance. WHO and UDAIDS call upon all Zambians to access HIV testing services, know their HIV status; and those tested positive should start and adhere to Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) in order to achieve sustained viral suppression.”