Children have been severely affected by the HIV epidemic in Zambia. In 2017, 72,000 children (aged 0-14 years) were living with HIV, and 250,000 children and adolescents (0-17 years) have been orphaned by AIDS since the epidemic began.
Around 7,300 children became newly infected with HIV in 2017. Although this is a significant decline from the 13,000 children who became HIV positive in 2010, this latest figure indicates an upward trend, as 4,700 children contracted HIV in 2015.
A rigorous elimination of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programme has been implemented in Zambia, which has seen the percentage of vertical transmission drop by 51% between 2011 and 2012.
Despite these promising changes, new challenges have arisen for babies exposed to HIV at birth, with many struggling to adhere to treatment. Among infants diagnosed with HIV in Lusaka, the Zambian capital, around 40% were reported as presenting resistance to at least one ART drug by 2014 compared to 21.5% in 2009. As a result of ineffective or inaccessible treatment, 3,400 children died of AIDS-related illness in 2017.
HIV awareness, education and approach to sex education.
There are still many misconceptions about HIV and AIDS in Zambia. Latest data suggests that just 39% of people have comprehensive knowledge of HIV, despite 90% having heard of the virus. Knowledge is slightly better among young (aged 15-24) with around 42% of young women and 47% of young men having comprehensive knowledge of HIV.
If behavior is to be changed young people must be a priority target as around 46% of all Zambian are between 0 and 14 years old. Working towards this, by 2016, comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) was being introduced into school curriculums and strategies was being implemented to reach out to adolescents who were not in school.