The 0.3 percent increase in the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in North Western Province is worrisome, says provincial medical officer (PMO) Simulyamana Choonga.
He said according to the Zambia Demographic Health Survey (ZDHS) of 2013-2014, the province had recorded an increase in HIV from 6.9 to 7.2 percent.
“This is worrisome because we have been doing vigorous sensitisation to ensure that people are knowledgeable about HIV prevention,” Dr Choonga said. He said the increase was a sign that there was need for more sensitization in the province. Mr Choonga said the increase could be attributed to various factors including increased investment and quick rate of development.
“Urbanisation and migration of people from other parts of the country into the province has greatly contributed to the increase in the spread of HIV,” he said.
Dr. Choonga said Solwezi district remained the highest in the province at 10.2 percent.
“This is due to various factors such as the district being the capital of the province and the home of various large investments such as the mines,” he said.
Dr Choonga said there was need to prioritize Solwezi district for deliberate prevention and sensitisation programmes aimed at reducing the prevalence rate.
He said the goal of complete eradication of new infections cannot be achieved unless all stakeholders worked together to educate the public on prevention methods and risks. Dr. Choonga called on all stakeholders to join in the fight against HIV/ AIDS to ensure that there was no rise in the prevalence rates.
Kabompo district recorded the lowest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate at 5.9, Mufumbwe (6.0), Kasempa (6.1), Chavuma at 7.3, and Mwinilunga at 7.3 while Zambezi stands at 7.3 percent.
And Solwezi District Commissioner Chipawa Chipawa expressed concern over the increase saying his office was working tirelessly with other stakeholders to find ways to reduce new infections in the district.
Mr Chipawa said the increase had been caused by the influx of people coming into the district for various economic purposes.
“Due to various economic activities, there are a lot of people coming into the district from other parts of the country and abroad. Some know their statuses while others don’t, so it becomes a case of morals and self-responsibility,” he said.
Mr Chipawa however said the district office had identified hot spots for various illicit activities contributing to the increase and would move in quickly to curb the vices.
“Among the hotspots, we have identified Kisasa and Manyama as some of the areas with high rates of illicit activities and disease due to mining activities near these two areas,” Mr Chipawa said.