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Zambia records reduction in HIV infections

HIV Infections
Lesotho. Moeketsi Rathulo has multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and he is kept in an isolation room. He was working at the mines in South Africa and got very sick with MDR-TB, his family left him because he was not sending money home when he was there, here a nurse taking care of him at the Maseru TB hospital. Lesotho is a mountainous country located entirely within the borders of South Africa. It is home to more than 2 million people and has one of the highest HIV burdens in the world, with between 23 and 30% of the population estimated to be infected with the disease (UNAIDS 2004). Lesotho is also burdened by a high rate of TB, with an incidence of 465 per 100,000 population reported in 2005 (10,363 cases), making it the country with the fourth highest incidence in the world. Lesotho is likely in the midst of a public health disaster, where a drug-resistant TB epidemic and HIV epidemic are colliding, one fueling the other. An estimated 950 new MDR-TB patients will be diagnosed every year in Lesotho. Low TB cure rates and heavy migration to and from South Africa are likely to exacerbate the problem of drug-resistant TB. It is estimated that up to 70 percent of men living in rural Lesotho migrate to South Africa for work.

Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya says the government is happy with strides made towards the reduction of new HIV infections.

Dr. Chilufya said this in Lusaka today during Zambia’s 8th Health Research three day Conference under the theme “Breaking new ground in health research: moving from results to implementation-without leaving anyone behind”.

Dr. Chilufya said government with collaboration from other stakeholders remains committed towards ensuring that HIV cases drop drastically.

He said the cases are reducing because of the positive political will and environment which has changed the way people look at the epidemic.

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Dr. Chilufya said the ministry has made progress in ensuring that many people are tested and treated, should they be found positive.

He said statistics of those being tested has increased from 70 percent to the current 86 percent.

Dr. Chilufya said the government has also made strides in the reduction of Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTC) from 15 percent to 6 percent.

He said the ministry’s goal is also to ensure that they eliminate Syphilis and HIV in newborns, in order to reduce the level of transmission.

Dr. Chilufya further said all these interventions will be achieved through the effective use of the community health approach.

Speaking earlier UNAids Representative Kenneth Mwansa says Aids is not over in Zambia but that it can be controlled.

Dr. Mwansa said this is one of the biggest gatherings on HIV in Zambia, bringing together government departments as well as civil society organisations.

He said nearly nine hundred thousand people in Zambia are on ART treatment while three hundred thousand are still waiting to be put on treatment.

source: lusakatimes

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