U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Lewis Urges Zambia To Adopt Clear HIV/AIDS Policy, Provide Antiretrovirals
U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis on Tuesday urged Zambia to adopt a "clear" policy on HIV/AIDS to combat the disease more effectively and reduce the country's prevalence rate, Times of Zambia/AllAfrica.com reports. During a meeting with Zambian Foreign Affairs Minister Ronnie Shikapwasha, Lewis also called on the country to create "enhanced" relations with other countries to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic, according to AllAfrica.com (AllAfrica.com, 1/26). Lewis expressed "regret" that Zambia's efforts to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS in the country had failed because the government has not laid out clear legislative guidelines to help implement the most effective strategies, Xinhua News Agency reports. Shikapwasha indicated that the government is committed to creating and adopting a legislative policy to facilitate strategies to fight the disease (Xinhua News Agency, 1/25). Lewis praised the government's efforts to provide antiretroviral drugs to HIV-positive people in the country, and he encouraged Zambia to ensure women gain more access to the treatments because he said they are the "most vulnerable class," according to AllAfrica.com. Health Minister Brian Chituwo said the drugs were still in "short supply" throughout the country, according to AllAfrica.com. Lewis said the government's goal of providing 100,000 HIV-positive Zambians with antiretroviral drugs by the end of 2005 was "in line" with the World Health Organization's 3 by 5 Initiative, which aims to provide antiretroviral medication to three million HIV-positive people by the end of 2005 (AllAfrica.com, 1/26). During a ceremony in October 2004 to mark Zambia's 40th anniversary of independence, President Levy Mwanawasa said that he would expand the distribution of antiretroviral drugs to treat 100,000 HIV-positive people by 2005. One in five people in Zambia is HIV-positive, and people ages 15 to 49 are the most affected group (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/4/04). Chituwo said over 17,000 people in Zambia currently are receiving antiretrovirals (AllAfrica.com, 1/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.