Health minister, Masebo, says Zambia may face about 14,000 new HIV infections annually


Alarming statistics indicate a rising number of new HIV infections among individuals aged 15 to 35, particularly affecting young girls and women, Health officials say.

Health Minister, Sylvia Masebo, said the alarming statistics indicate a rising number of new HIV infections among individuals aged 15 to 35.

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Masebo said this affected particularly young girls and women.

She noted that the trend reduced government’s potential to channel the social economic benefits of the productive age demographic.

Masebo said this during the National HIV, Testing, and Counseling (HTCT) Day held in Lusaka on Sunday under the resounding theme “Young People Make a Difference! Test for HIV” held in Lusaka on Sunday.

According to the statistics, Masebo said approximately 50 percent of new HIV infections occurred among adolescents and young people in 2022.

She said this accounted for an estimated 14,000 to 17,000 new infections annually.

“Factors contributing to this increase include inadequate uptake of preventive interventions, including testing services, suboptimal adherence to treatment, substance abuse, and high-risk behaviours driven by peer influence,” Masebo said.

She said it was disturbing that 35 percent of the new HIV infections among infants result from infections in pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Masebo said childhood HIV detection and treatment rates have remained insufficient over time, with nearly half of infants diagnosed after their highest risk period.

“Only half of children living with HIV receive the required treatment. This predicament demands our government’s firm attention and effective intervention,” she said.

Masebo said in harmony with the global community, Zambia was, however, steadfast in its commitment to end AIDS in children and fix inequalities by 2030.

She said Zambia had made commendable progress towards ending HIV as a public health threat.

“Notably, 89 percent of individuals living with HIV know their status, with 98 percent of them receiving HIV treatment and 96 percent achieving viral suppression,” Masebo said.

She said Zambia proudly stands as one of the first 12 African countries to implement the ‘Global Alliance to End AIDS in Children by 2030.’

Masebo added that the country’s comprehensive Country Action Plan outlined strategic requirements to bridge current gaps in each pillar and engage essential partners in this transformative journey.

“We must confront the inequalities enabling stigma, discrimination, and HIV-related criminalization, which heightened exposure to HIV acquisition and AIDS-related deaths,” she said.

Masebo said failure to address these challenges threatens to reverse the hard-earned progress Zambia had achieved thus far.

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