—-Chipata District Commissioner, Kalunga Zulu, says Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) is a powerful entry point into whole range of strategies such as Prevention of Mother To child Transition (PMTCT) and Ante Retroviral Therapy (ART).
Mr zulu said VCT was also an entry point in engaging men who were not always actively involved around sexual reproductive health issues.
Speaking in a speech read for him by District Administrative Officer, Masauso Banda at the commemoration of VCT day held at Kasenga Basic School in Chief Chanje’s area, Mr Zulu stated that the strategies also maximized the day’s utility and acts as a mechanism to reach men.
‘’Presently Chipata district has 46 centres providing antenatal care services as well as HIV testing and counselling for pregnant mothers. There is need for more centres in the district to ensure that all women who need the services access them,’’ he added.
Mr Zulu, however, stated that VCT had its own challenges, adding that
only 20 per cent of the adult population knew their status.
He observed that a good number did not get their results after being tested for HIV.
Mr Zulu noted that women were in some cases victimized by their spouses and partners after going for VCT.
The DC noted with sadness that people were still hiding when taking ARVs 20 years after the drugs were introduced.
He observed that stigma had continued to be a major challenge on HIV and AIDS related issues.
Mr Zulu, however, said there was need for concerted efforts from all stakeholders to fight stigma and discrimination that drove people away from VCT.
He has since called on men to catch-up by taking bold decisions to go for VCT as they were at the centre of stigma and abuse when instead they should be the pillars of hope and endurance.
He said there was also need for families to support and trust one another because that was cardinal in the whole process of VCT.