More and Better HIV Services Coming to Zambia

IntraHealth International’s new, $20.7 million project to expand HIV counseling and testing services in Zambia is now up and running, after its official launch in Lusaka on November 28, 2012. The HIV Testing and Counseling Project will bring high-quality services to selected urban and rural populations in Zambia.

Since 2007, IntraHealth has worked to make HIV testing and counseling more accessible in the Zambian districts of Namwala, Siavonga, Gwembe, Kalomo, and Luangwa. Through this new project, which is funded by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), IntraHealth will expand its services in those areas and offer testing and counseling in additional districts, including communities in the Western, Southern, and Lusaka provinces.

“Using family approaches and door-to-door testing, this team, working with the district leadership, has steadily increased the number of people who know both their own HIV status and that of their partner,” said the CDC’s Dr. Lawrence Marum during the launch event. “There were nearly three million test encounters last year alone in Zambia.”

Almost 300 Zambians per day are infected with HIV. The country ranks seventh among nations most affected by the virus and has a 14.3% prevalence rate.

By offering convenient, confidential testing for couples and families in their own homes, IntraHealth is working to ensure that more Zambians know what services are available to them, understand how to prevent HIV transmission, and know the HIV status of their partners.

Most HIV testing and counseling in Zambia focuses on individuals, who may or may not share their results with their partners. But according to Marum, individual service is only the first step. Services for couples are essential.

“Knowing your own HIV status will not protect you from HIV,” he said. “It is knowing the HIV status of your sexual partner that will help protect you.”

The Zambia Health Education and Communications Trust, an indigenous organization, is a sub-partner on the project.

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