People In Zambia Urged To Get HIV Tests On National Voluntary Counseling Day

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HIV Tests

Alex Simwanza, director of programs for Zambia's National HIV/AIDS Council,in an interview ahead of Zambia's national voluntary counseling andtesting day, which was scheduled for Monday, said the country's testingrates are too low and urged people who do not know their HIV status tobe tested, Zambia's The Post reports.


Simwanzaadded that about 1.5 million Zambians have been tested for HIV and thatthe country's HIV prevalence is 16%. He also said that people should"go for VCT and know their status, so that whichever side they findthemselves on, they will be able to take precautionary measures."Simwanza added that knowing one's status is "power." People who arefound to be HIV-positive will receive treatment and support, and peoplewho are HIV-negative will be "able to maintain their negative status,"Simwanza said. He added that HIV testing and counseling "play acritical role in HIV prevention by helping people to cope with thedisease and avoid infecting others."

According to Simwanza, VCTday calls for a partnership among parliament, traditional leaders,civil society, the private sector and communities to "mobilize" peopleto access HIV services and to scale up HIV treatment and preventionprograms. He added that HIV prevention programs should include amultifaceted, integrated approach to reach the largest number of peoplewith a combination of information and services.

AbisheckMusonda, executive director of Community Youth Mobilisation, said thatthe national testing day is important in HIV prevention and in ensuringaccess to treatment, care and support. Musonda added that the day wouldbe "meaningless" if efforts are not made to provide testing andcounseling to people living in rural areas. Musonda said the majorityof HIV-positive people living in rural areas are unaware of their HIVstatus and called on the government to make HIV testing and counseling"available to the rural community" (Noyoo, The Post, 8/27).

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