— Know your HIV/AIDS status – Kabanshi

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GOVERNMENT says the knowledge of HIV
status can help people make decisions to protect themselves and their
sexual partners.

Community Development, Mother and Child Health minister , Emerine
Kabanshi, says Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) has 
benefits which are relatively cost-effective intervention in preventing HIV transmission.

Ms Kabanshi said those that test negative can have their minds put at
rest and be encouraged to reduce their risk and be referred for
appropriate follow-ups services and have their health monitored.

She was speaking in a speech read on her behalf by her deputy, Ingrid
Mpande, at this year’s National VCT Day held at Chiweza Primary School
in Nyimba District under the theme: “ Reaching Everyone, Everywhere
with Annual HIV Counselling and Testing Services.”

Ms. Kabanshi noted that VCT programmes and early diagnosis play an
important role in accessing potentially life-saving care.

‘’ Individuals who learn of their positive status are also likely to
reduce risk-taking behaviors, thereby reducing the risk of onward
transmission or becoming with other sexually transmitted infections
and can help in reducing conditions like cancer of the cervix,’’ she

And National AID Council (NAC) Chairperson, Bishop Joshua Banda, said
for a long time, the country has stressed the importance of HIV
testing as an entry point into Anti-Retroviral Therapy, positive
living and adoption of HIV risk reduction behaviors.

Dr. Banda however, said while the country appreciated the increase in
numbers of people who tested for HIV, during the National VCT Day, NAC
demanded for the services to be carried out throughout the year taking
advantage of readily available services in community based facilities.

‘’ It is the desire of NAC as a national coordinating body of HIV
response for us as a country to consolidate the gains of concerted
efforts of the past three decades across the variety of prevention,
care and support,’’ he said.

Dr. Banda also said the joint United Nations programme on HIV and AIDS
ranked Zambia as one of the seven high performing countries in the
world especially in the area of Prevention of Mother To Child
Transmission (PMTCT) which was currently at over 90 percent access


He also challenged some pastors who are fond of discouraging those on
HIV treatment to stop medication after being prayed for, adding that,
God gave people drugs so that they can be healed and not to be

‘’ From a religious angle, I am aware of some wrongs that are going
on. Some church leaders calling themselves prophets are discouraging
patients from taking drugs after being prayed for forgetting that God
has given us knowledge to come up with medicine, ‘’ Dr. Banda said.

He called on people to report those telling HIV patients to stop
taking drugs after being prayed for, to his office so that appropriate
action can be taken.

Meanwhile, Nyimba District Community Medical Officer, Jonathan Chama,
said during the VCT week, out of the target of 10, 000, 4, 052 males
were reached and 6, 476 females were also reached, thereby beating the
target that was given.

Dr. Chama also observed that 400 Voluntary Male Circumcision was also
done, including family planning and cervical cancer testing.

And Chief Ndake thanked government for choosing Nyimba to host the
event, saying, the hosting of the will put the district on the map to
showcase the fight against the fight of HIV and AIDS.