Zambian President Edgar Lungu on Tuesday launched a campaign to promote HIV testing with a declaration that HIV testing, counseling and treatment has now become compulsory in all public health institutions.
Lungu said the development was official government policy and was in response to the government’s agenda of ending HIV by 2030.
Lungu said that the cabinet during its sitting on Monday approved the move to make HIV testing compulsory unlike the current situation where testing was voluntary.
“Just the same way we don’t consult you for consent when we are testing for malaria, we will go ahead and test you for HIV and we will counsel you and if you are positive, we will commence you on treatment,” he said.
The Zambian leader said contrary to claims by some people that the decision was against human rights and rights to privacy, the move will go a long way in protecting life as those who will be found positive will be put on treatment.
The government, he said, has since launched self-HIV testing kits and that people should take advantage of the service to know their status.
He particularly called on men to take a keen interest in knowing their HIV status.
While 67 percent of the country’s population knows their HIV status, the Zambian leader expressed concern that the percentage of men going for testing was lower than that for women.
He said while women undergo HIV testing each time they went for antenatal clinics, it was not the same for men and urged stakeholders to find ways of encouraging men as well.
The HIV scourge, he said, has continued to pose one of the biggest threats to the country’s development, with about 1.2 million people currently living with the virus.
United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator Janet Rogan said more people needed to know their status in order to ensure sustained fight against HIV.
Credit: Xinhua Source: GhanaXtra