USAID To Give Zambia $24M To Fight AIDS, Malaria; Zambian Government Bans Condom Distribution in Schools
The U.S. Agency for International Development plans to give Zambia $24 million to combat AIDS and malaria and improve the quality of drinking water, the U.S. embassy in Lusaka, Zambia, said on Tuesday in a statement, the Associated Press reports. The money will be used to fund health education programs -- coordinated by the government and the Society for Family Health -- over the next six years and distribute condoms to high-risk groups, according to the statement. The program also will focus on increasing access to voluntary counseling and testing services to improve the public's knowledge about HIV/AIDS and dispel the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, the Associated Press reports. "The project ... will use proven strategies for making affordable, preventive health care products and services more accessible and available to low-income Zambians," the statement said (Associated Press, 10/26). During a ceremony over the weekend to mark Zambia's 40th anniversary of independence, President Levy Mwanawasa said he would expand the distribution of antiretroviral drugs to treat 100,000 HIV-positive people by 2005. Currently, 12,000 HIV-positive people are receiving treatment (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/25).
Zambia Bans Condom Distribution in Schools
Zambia on Tuesday banned free condom distribution in schools just as USAID announced its funding for HIV/AIDS programs, with condom distribution a "key part of the strategy," Reuters reports. A senior health official said Mwanawasa endorsed the ban, adding, "The government's view is that distributing condoms in schools is like encouraging sex among the youth." Zambian church leaders have urged the government to end condom distribution in favor of abstinence education for students, Reuters reports. Rosemary Musonda, head of Zambia's National AIDS Council, said, "It is not right to allow condoms in schools. It is going against the teaching of good morals." One in five people in Zambia is HIV-positive, and people ages 15 to 49 are the most-affected group, according to Reuters (Shacinda, Reuters, 10/26).