Zambia calls for involvement of communities in HIV/AIDS response

LUSAKA, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- Zambia on Friday joined the rest of the world in commemorating this year's World AIDS Day with the government calling for the involvement of communities in the HIV and AIDS response if the fight was to be successful.

Held under the theme, "Let Communities Lead", the main event, held at the Olympic Development Center in Lusaka, the country's capital, started with a march past by various organizations.

"Unless communities lead, the HIV and AIDS response will continue being hampered. Our country stands to benefit, when communities are entrusted with leadership in determining the health, social and economic needs of their members," Minister of Health Sylvia Masebo said during the event.

While acknowledging the importance of involving communities in the HIV and AIDS response, the minister underscored the need for community-led responses to be adequately supported to enable communities play their vital role as equal, full-integrated partners in national systems for health and social services.

The minister said Zambia has made progress in the HIV and AIDS response with over 1.2 million people on life saving anti-retroviral drugs.

UNAIDS Country Director for Zambia Tharcisse Barihuta said the involvement of communities in the HIV and AIDS response was vital as community involvement has helped tackle other pandemics in the world.

"The path to ending HIV and AIDS means working with communities and putting communities at the center," he said.

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