Circle Of Hope(COH) Executive Director Gibstar Makangila says in comparative terms, the rate of HIV and AIDS treatment in Zambia is higher for women than men who have continued to be resistant.
This, Mr Makangila said, is an obstacle to the fight against the HIV and AIDS pandemic that has continued to decimate humanity.
Speaking in an exclusive interview after day one of the COH Exchange Visit of its PEPFAR programme, Mr Makangila said most men are shunning HIV and AIDS treatment.
The COH Executive Director explained that nowadays, there is no much sensization programmes for men and women alike to know their status and get treatment because of the coming in of medicines and people have gotten used to the HIV and AIDS message.
He, was however, quick to point out that since COH introduced models-community posts in various places, there has been an upswing in the number of men accessing HIV treatment.
Mr Makangila said COH is doing everything to ensure that the rate at which people are getting HIV and AIDS treatment is faster than the rate of at which they are getting infected.
“What has happened in some quarters, people have gotten used to the HIV and AIDS message and also the coming in of medicines… (has reduced sensitization programmes for HIV and AIDS treatment) So, what we are doing as Circles of Hope is to ensure that the rate at which people are being placed on treatment is faster than the rate at which people are getting infected. So far so good, going by the statistics for Zambia, I think we are winning the battle…Most people who are infected are getting treatment but we need to ensure that we bring in more men. men are the ones that are shunning treatment but so far, through these models, we have seen an upswing in the number of men accessing treatment. So, we are very excited that improvement is happening,” he said.
Mr Makangila added: “Circle of Hope has been instrumental in designing a model that has expanded in Zambia and is currently being expanded to the rest of Africa.This model is what you saw today (at Msisi Market and Chawama Anglican Parish). We have been to Nigeria and we are going to Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Malawi, Tanzania and South Africa…this is a story of Circle of Hope, an entity that has decided to make a difference in the area of HIV and AIDS.”
He said the model is aimed at taking services closer to where people are working, worshipping and socializing.
“…and so, we have taken the models to markets, churches, bus stops and to busy residential settings. In that way, people can only take five minutes to arrive at the clinic and if they miss their medicine within five minutes or ten minutes, it will find them where they are ,” he said.
Mr Makangila added that the models have also helped to fight HIV and AIDS stigma because the community post is placed in an environment which looks like an ordinary market.
“We provide all the services, for instance which Chawama Clinic is supposed to provide in one room. It is cheaper, cost effective and very efficient in terms of how much time the client spends at the clinic,” he said.
Asked whether the battle against AIDS can be won before 2030, Mr Makangila quipped: “We are winning this battle on two fronts, if the cure delays, will bring the HIV pandemic under control…it will be within normal rates. We know that by 2030, we aim to put every single Zambian under treatment and therefore, if someone is on treatment, the levels of viral load are so low that they are not able to pass on to the next person.”
Circle of Hope was formed in 2004 but became operational on 1st September 2005. It was established by Northmead Assemblies of God as direct response to the support group for People Living With HIV and AIDS(PLWHA) within the Church fratenity.