LUSAKA – The U.S. Government, through the USAID Open Doors activity, increased its key HIV services to marginalized, vulnerable, and underserved populations in eight targeted districts over the past six years.
The USAID Open Doors Project, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health through District Health Offices, used an innovative approach to overcome barriers to accessing HIV services. The project reached over 135,000 underserved community members by visiting them in the community, offering peer referrals, utilizing social media, mapping community hotspots where risky behavior is more likely to take place, and providing flexible service hours.
The USAID Open Doors program provided individuals with HIV services including condoms and lubricants, family planning, STI treatment, HIV testing, and linkage to treatment. These services, along with the innovative outreach approach, contributed to Zambia recently exceeding the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) targets for HIV treatment and viral load suppression. Now 98 percent of those who are aware of their HIV status are on treatment, and 96 percent of those on treatment are virally suppressed – meaning HIV is undetectable in the body. Zambia is also on track to reach the goal that 95 percent of all Zambian adults living with HIV are aware of their status. The U.S. Government continues to support the Ministry of Health to achieve this goal and urges everyone to visit their local clinic to determine their status.
In addition to health services, USAID Open Doors also provided economic strengthening activities, such as savings and loans groups, and strengthened the capacity of civil society organizations, district health offices, health facility staff, and members of the community to play active roles in managing the HIV response. Impactful, lasting change is possible when everyone in the chain of service delivery is empowered. The U.S. Government, through USAID, continues to support priority and vulnerable populations through the Controlling HIV Epidemic for Key and Underserved Populations (CHEKUP) activity, which works to ensure that there are no gaps in service delivery.