New Project Will Expand HIV Counseling and Testing in Zambia

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has awarded a new five-year, $20.7 million project to IntraHealth International. As part of the new HIV Testing and Counseling (HTC) Project, IntraHealth will work with the Zambia Health Education and Communications Trust to expand and improve HIV testing and counseling services in Zambia.

Every day some 266 adults and 25 children in Zambia are infected with HIV. Zambia ranks seventh among nations most affected by the virus and has a 14.3% prevalence rate. HIV disproportionately affects Zambia’s women.1 Many people do not use the services that are available or fully understand how HIV spreads and can be prevented. Poverty and insufficient infrastructure for HIV services exacerbate the situation.

“Implementing and scaling up comprehensive HIV counseling and testing services presents an excellent opportunity to reverse the devastating impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Zambia,” said Jonas Chanda, the program’s project director. “Knowing your HIV status is the first step in preventing the transmission of HIV and is an entry point to HIV care and treatment. Everyone should have an opportunity to know their status as well as have access to information and services that allow them to act on that information.”

The HTC Project will target the Southern, Western, and Lusaka provinces—where HIV rates are particularly high—to expand access and use of testing and counseling services; link individuals, couples, and families to referral and follow-up services; and improve the quality of services. The project will also promote prevention interventions for both the general population and vulnerable groups including alcohol and drug users, mobile populations, and those engaged in transactional sex. To foster sustainability, the project will work through and strengthen existing Ministry of Health systems and offer grants to increase districts’ roles in service implementation.

This project builds on the successes of IntraHealth’s current program in Zambia. Since 2007, IntraHealth has been strengthening HIV counseling and testing services in rural and underserved districts in the Southern and Lusaka provinces. IntraHealth has trained and deployed 140 lay counselors and 85 health workers, who have since provided HIV testing and counseling to more than 190,000 people.

The project will be led by Dr. Jonas Chanda. Chanda brings more than 12 years of experience working in sub-Saharan Africa in HIV/AIDS research, care, and treatment; prevention of mother-to-child transmission; and other infectious disease programs. 

1. HIV prevalence in females aged 15-49, at 16.1%, is significantly higher than in men aged 15-49 (12%).