The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is gearing up to observe World AIDS Day on 1 December, with AHF Zambia’s official commemoration taking place on Saturday, 29 November at the Chipata Compound Grounds in Lusaka. In support of the national theme, Zambia at 50 towards Zero Stigma, activities building up to the main event will commence on 26 November where AHF support groups will create awareness in local communities on HIV and its associated stigma.
AHF Zambia Country Programme Manager, Victoria Kalota said one of the goals of the event was to test 1000 people, in addition to creating awareness around HIV/AIDS stigma. “Our target is to link 80 percent of all who test HIV positive to health centres for care and treatment,” she added. “As we test and sensitise, we will also distribute condoms and refer all negative men for male circumcision.”
Kalota further detailed the day’s events, “We will have a march led by the Zambia army band and majorettes to the Chipata grounds. At the grounds the support group will sensitise people through drama performances, songs, dances and a football competition. We have also invited a local musician for entertainment.” She added that AHF Zambia will enjoy the support of seven of its working partners at the event, who will offer services such as circumcision, cancer screening, and general health related services. Zambia breweries has thrown its support behind the event, donating water and soft drinks for all participants.
AHF global is also on a mission to extend access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) to 20 million people by year 2020. The 20×20 campaign will be highlighted by asking citizens to add their red ribbon of support to a pin board on Saturday. The campaign challenges the current shortfall of treatment as currently only 12 million out of the estimated 35 million people living with HIV worldwide are on treatment.
AHF Zambia will also participate in the National AIDS Council World AIDS Day breakfast and media briefing on HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) in Zambia. “Honourable Minister Emerine Kanbashi, Minister of Community Development Mother and Child Health is the guest of honour at the breakfast,” explained Kalota. “We hope to be able to ask questions on government plans to address stock-out of HIV test kits at supported sites as stock-outs have proved to be a challenge.”