LUSAKA – Results from the second Zambia Population-based HIV and AIDS Impact Assessment (ZAMPHIA) survey conducted between May-December 2021, show that 89 percent of Zambian adults aged 15 years and older living with HIV are aware of their status, 98 percent of those who are aware of their status are on treatment, and 96 percent of those on treatment are virally suppressed (meaning a reduction of HIV in the body to low levels where transmission is less likely to occur).
The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) “95-95-95” targets call for 95 percent of people living with HIV to be aware of their status, 95 percent of those aware of their status to be on antiretroviral therapy (ART), and 95 percent of those on ART to achieve viral load suppression. Zambia is close to achieving the first 95 target and has exceeded the targets for HIV treatment and viral load suppression. Zambia has made laudable progress since the 2016 ZAMPHIA results of 71-87-89 and is on track to surpass all three of the 95 targets by 2025.
The ZAMPHIA 2021 survey was implemented under the leadership of the Government of the Republic of Zambia through the Ministry of Health and the Zambia Statistics Agency. The United States government through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) provided financial support as well as technical assistance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the University of Maryland-Baltimore in collaboration with other government and non-government organizations.
ZAMPHIA 2021 showed that HIV prevalence among adults (15+ years) is 11 percent overall, eight percent among men, and 14 percent among women. Compared to the 2016 survey, ZAMPHIA 2021 demonstrated that HIV prevalence among younger adults (ages 15-24 years) decreased from four percent to three percent.
These results show the tremendous progress achieved over the past six years, resulting in adults living with HIV being greatly more aware of their status, adhering to HIV treatment, and living longer, healthier lives. Compared to older adults, viral load suppression was lower for young men and women between the ages of 15-24 (70.1 percent and 71.2 percent respectively). This indicates the need to intensify testing and treatment interventions for young adults who are living with HIV.
Professor Lloyd Mulenga, Director of Infectious Diseases at the Zambia Ministry of Health and the Principal Investigator for the survey said, “These results reflect the tireless efforts of the Zambian Government and its cooperating partners in the fight against HIV for the last three decades.” Mulenga added, “These results show that it is possible for Zambia to end HIV as an epidemic by 2030. To accelerate progress, our focus must remain on increasing adoption of HIV prevention, testing, and treatment services for adolescents and young people.”
U.S. CDC Zambia Country Director Andrew Auld, MD, PhD, noted that “Between 2016 and 2021, Zambia reduced the number of new HIV infections among adults by half. ZAMPHIA 2021 demonstrates the tremendous impact of the national HIV response led by the Government of the Republic of Zambia in collaboration with partners, including the U.S. Government through PEFPAR. These findings reveal progress and highlight remaining gaps that must be bridged for Zambia to achieve HIV epidemic control.”
Man Charurat, PhD, Global Director of Ciheb at the University of Maryland-Baltimore’s School of Medicine congratulated the government and people of Zambia on these results. Charurat said, “This remarkable progress shows the importance of population-based surveys in decision-making for the national and sub-national HIV response.”
Population level surveys are important to help determine the status of prevailing diseases of public health interest to inform programming. The ZAMPHIA 2021 survey has shown that Zambia is on track to achieve the UNAIDS 95-95-95 targets with the aim to end AIDS by 2030.