President Edgar Lungu has announced that HIV testing, Counseling and Treatment is now compulsory in Zambia.
The Head of State says government is taking steps aimed at making Zambia an AIDS free country by 2030.
He says the strategy which has replaced Voluntary Counseling and Testing has prioritised the fight against HIV by ensuring that people know their status.
President Lungu said this when he launched the inaugural HIV and AIDS Counseling, Testing and Treatment day commemoration in LUSAKA today, under the theme,: “Test and Treat” towards ending AIDS.
The President also said there is no need to wait for people to fall sick before they can start lifesaving treatment.
President Lungu also tasked Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya to find ways of compelling men to know their status.
He said most women who access antenatal services are tested for HIV but their partners are not
AND the Head of State has asked citizens to embrace self-testing HIV kits.
President Lungu said government will implement measures that will accelerate the distribution of the kits to rural areas.
The President expects all government institutions and NGOs to immediately put in place robust wellness programmes to address HIV.
President Lungu observed that it is disheartening to hear of discrimination and stigmatisation of people living with HIV and warned that government will fight practices of stigma in the country.
At the same occasion, United Nations Resident Coordinator Janet Rogan bemoaned the high levels of stigma against people living with HIV saying the practice discourages people from finding out their status.
Ms Rogan urged people on HIV treatment not to be misled into discontinuing their medication by some people who claim they can cure the disease.
And United States Charge D’Affaires Christopher Craft said the HIV and AIDS Counseling, Testing and Treatment strategy is an important step in helping to establish an AIDS free generation.
Meanwhile, Lusaka Province Minister Japhen Mwakalombe thanked President Lungu for his support to the fight against HIV and AIDS.
And Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya said President Lungu has provided leadership in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Dr. Chilufya said President Lungu will leave a legacy for his efforts in combating the pandemic.