Zambia: The Number of HIV Test Participants Increased Three Fold

In Zambia, one in seven adults is HIV-positive. AAR Japan has been taking comprehensive efforts in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS in Zambia by raising awareness through anti-AIDS clubs established in the local elementary and junior high schools, as well as rendering support and care for HIV-positive individuals and children orphaned by AIDS. Most recently in September 2012, AAR Japan also constructed a voluntary counseling and testing center (VCT center) in the Chipapa area, a suburb of the capital city of Lusaka. The center will provide the local people with HIV-testing and counseling.

Chipapa is a small village located about 20 km south of Lusaka, the capital of Zambia.

No Facility for HIV Testing!

In order to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS, it is vital that everyone remains aware of the epidemic, gets tested for HIV, and takes appropriate action based on the test results. Thus, the introduction of a strategy called Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT), which provides HIV-testing and counseling, is becoming more popular in recent years. Under the VCT strategy, counselors provide individuals who seek HIV-testing with accurate knowledge about HIV/AIDS, such as how to protect themselves from HIV transmission and how to avoid secondary infections. Those who test HIV-positive are given detailed information about treatments for AIDS. Even in cases of HIV-negative results, the counselors ask their clients about their lifestyles and sexual practices, and give advice on how to prevent infection and when to come for future testing.
The old Chipapa Clinic, which used to provide a room for HIV testing and counseling.
But there were concerns relating to patient privacy.

The Chipapa Clinic, which is partnering with AAR Japan to provide support for HIV-positive individuals, is also working to provide VCT services. However, the clinic did not have a designated room for HIV-testing and counseling. The clinic had to first see outpatients with diseases or injuries, people who came seeking HIV-tests often had to wait for a long time before they were attended to. Moreover, the clinic’s walls were so thin that conversations could be overheard by others. This lack of privacy was one of the main reasons why many people hesitated to come forward for testing. To solve all these problems, AAR Japan decided to construct a facility specially designed for VCT services, and the construction was completed in September 2012.

The newly constructed facility designed for testing and counseling.
It is receiving praise from locals as a clinic that ensures privacy. (October 3rd, 2012)

At the new facility, the locals can receive counseling and HIV testing in a private room, and leave with their results in five minutes. Mr. Chelo, a counselor in the Chipapa Clinic, says, “Since the opening of the VCT center, we’ve been having more locals, especially couples, coming for HIV testing. In the past, there were many people who could not tell their partners about their HIV status. But today, the locals here are all aware of the importance of getting tested, and the center’s ensured privacy is attracting more couples to come and ask questions. For example, couples come in asking what to do if one partner was tested as HIV-positive and the other as HIV-negative. That’s a welcome change.”

We are waging the fight against AIDS with renewed momentum. The opening of a facility that provides a comfortable environment for testing, coupled with community awareness activities by the local youth whom AAR Japan has long supported, are creating a multiplier effect on our efforts.

 “Here we can talk without worries of being overheard.” A woman visiting the center to get HIV tested,
and Mr. Chelo, a counselor (left). (October 19th, 2012)

During the facility’s completion ceremony, the local youth performed a play highlighting
the importance of HIV testing. (October 3rd, 2012)

As A Community Hub to Counter AIDS

AAR Japan also constructed an information center that provides information and educational materials on HIV/AIDS, right next to the VCT center. The local residents can view all these materials free of charge. In the future, the Chipapa Clinic staff will be holding seminars on HIV/AIDS prevention at the information center. Because of the dearth of school libraries in the region, many students seeking information about HIV/AIDS also come to visit the information center, making it the regional hub for information on the fight against AIDS.

There is an information center annexed to the VCT center.
Many educational materials on HIV/AIDS can be viewed freely. (October 3rd, 2012)

The number of people who receive HIV tests at the new facility continues to rise. It reached 112 in October and 135 in November. On some days, there are more than 10 visitors. Compared to three years ago when AAR Japan first started its activities in the region, the total number of people receiving HIV tests has now tripled.

In 2013, AAR Japan has also started to help HIV-positive individuals take medication for AIDS on a long-term basis. We will persevere in our efforts to reduce the number of people suffering from HIV/AIDS.
During an event, the student members of an Anti-AIDS Club supported by AAR Japan
performed a play and encouraged the local residents to get HIV tested. (June 30th, 2012)
A local student participant in AAR Japan’s awareness-raising activities,
together with our expatriates at the Zambia Office, Hiromi KAWANO (left) and Moeko NAGAI (right).

* This project has been made possible by your generous donations and grants from Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Hiromi KAWANO, AAR Japan’s Zambia Office
After joining AAR Japan’s Tokyo Office and taking charge of the Water Supply and Hygiene Project in South Sudan and the HIV/AIDS Initiative Project in Zambia, she moved to Zambia to work as an expatriate at the Zambia Office in January 2012. She also worked to provide emergency and reconstruction aid during the Pakistan floods and the Haiti earthquake in 2010, and the East African drought in 2011.