HIV/AIDS testing is now mandatory in public health institutions as the Government acts to prevent further loss of life from the disease which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives since the mid-80s, President Edgar Lungu has announced. Mr Lungu said the HIV/AIDS pandemic had since 1984 claimed more than one million lives, while more than 1.2 million more people were currently living with the virus, and this has had a negative impact on national development. He said the matter was debated in detail during Monday’s Cabinet meeting, with the discussion culminating in the resolution to implement the measure with a view to helping wipe out the disease by 2030. “This bold decision prioritises HIV testing and immediate commencement and retention on Anti-retroviral Therapy (ART) treatment of all Zambians living with HIV. If you think that, just because you don’t fall sick then all is well, one day you will drop dead and we will know (your status) when you are in the morgue. So get tested so that you know your status,” Mr Lungu said. He said this at the Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC) in Lusaka yesterday when he officiated at the launch of the 2017 HIV Testing, Counseling and Treatment Day, which was commemorated under the theme ‘Test and Treat: Towards Ending AIDS’. Mr Lungu said when people fell ill, they would be subjected to all tests, including HIV/AIDS. Those testing positive for HIV-AIDS would immediately put on treatment to help control the disease. The Government is taking an integrated approach to the problem to ensure that the country meets its 2030 target of eliminating HIV in all communities across the country. Mr Lungu called on stakeholders to support the measure, emphasising on the need to empower people who tested negative with information to help them maintain their status by avoiding infection. The President said the Government was keen to achieve a healthy and productive population, which was a prerequisite to national development.
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