Zambia Expands Access to Treatment for HIV
GENEVA – In partnership with Zambia, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria signed a US$156 million grant agreement that aims to ensure a secure supply of antiretroviral medicine to all those receiving HIV treatment. The new funding will also support work that gets 225,000 more people to start treatment over the next three years.
At present, 480,000 people in Zambia are enrolled on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment with Global Fund support.
“Continued support from the Global Fund allows us to increase HIV testing and start thousands more people on treatment,” said Dr. Joseph Kasonde, Minister of Health, Republic of Zambia. “It will also allow us to pursue the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and to increase coverage of male circumcision.”
Zambia is one of the first countries in sub-Saharan Africa to achieve universal access to ARV treatment, defined as 80 percent coverage of those eligible. More than 90 percent of adults requiring treatment were on ARV therapy in June 2013. Zambia has been working with the Global Fund, the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and other partners, all of whom made important contributions to these achievements.
Zambia has adopted new WHO guidelines encouraging countries to automatically provide all HIV-positive pregnant or breastfeeding women antiretroviral therapy for life – a change that aims to both prevent transmission to infants and keep mothers healthy. Zambia has also adopted the WHO-recommended approach to couples where one person is HIV positive by providing treatment to these people regardless of the strength of their immune system – a factor that had previously determined whether treatment should commence.
The new grant, signed with the United Nations Development Programme, will also help strengthen the national supply chain and systems for assessing impact, as well as increasing the Ministry of Health’s capacity for managing health programs.
“Zambia’s strong political support and the growing level of domestic financing have helped establish interventions for attaining universal access in prevention, treatment, care and support,” said Linden Morrison, Head of the Global Fund’s High Impact Africa II Department. “Robust partnerships and investments will continue to yield impact.”
The 2012 UNAIDS report estimates HIV prevalence at 12.5 percent. More females (16.1 percent) than males (12.3 percent) are HIV-positive. Among 15 to 24 years, the estimated prevalence is 7 percent and 3.1 percent for females and males, respectively. HIV is the leading cause of death for all ages in Zambia.