HIV tests reveal shocking results among students in western Zambia

Lusaka- Zambia (PANA) -- Although the HIV/AIDS prevalence in Zambia has reduced f rom 15.
6 per cent to 14.
3 per cent since 2001, a recent test of more than 350 pu p ils in five high schools in Mongu district of the western province of Zambia hav e revealed distressing facts -- 16 of the students that underwent Voluntary Couns e ling and Testing (VCT) turned in positive results to HIV infection.
Adolescent Reproductive Health Advocate (ARHA) coordinator, Brian Kayongo explai ned that since his organisation had conducted the VCT tests at Limulunga, Sefula, Bist, Mule and Kambule High schools they had not expected to see some st udents with positive results since sensitisation workshops have repeatedly been c onducted among the students.
Kayongo noted that even the latest VCT programme was conducted to increase aware ness among schools on the importance of young people knowing their HIV status.
He added that ARHA was targeting not only to offer VCT services and sensitisatio n programmes on HIV/AIDS to the five schools but to spread them out to 10 other s chools in Mongu district by the end of the year.
He was speaking at the launch of the Pilot HIV/AIDS Prevention Strategy and hand over of HIV/AIDS Information Education Communication booths by Concern Worldwide to ARHA.
"About K7 million was spent on purchasing these booths which will be used to pro vide information about HIV/AIDS to the community," Kayongo said, adding that the booths would be located at the 10 highly populated and risky places in the distr i ct.
Speaking at the same function, Mongu district commissioner, Ikanuke Nayoo, said government through his office would continue providing an enabling environment f o r HIV/AIDS programmes in the district so that the community could be well inform e d.
Nayoo said the pilot programme would provide the people with diverse HIV/AIDS se rvices such as counseling, education, leaflets on HIV/AIDS, reproductive health i ssues and condom distribution.
He said ARHA peer counsellors would adopt particular households for sensitisatio n.
The households, he said would be provided with services such as access to VCT, household discussions on stigma and discrimination among other topics.
Concern WorldWide Programme manager, Edina Kalaluka, said it was important to al so target VCT services at youths in schools because they were at risk of contracting HIV since many young people engage in casual sex and as it was demon strated by the tests conducted at only high schools of the district.

28 may 2008 12:15:00

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