"Zambia is experiencing the health, economic and social impacts of a mature HIV/AIDS epidemic. The epidemic has affected all aspects of social and economic growth in the country. It has devastated individual families, weakened all areas of the public sector, and threatened long-term national development. Despite some evidence that the epidemic may have reached a plateau, there remains an urgent need for an integrated response from all sectors of the GRZ, FBOs, NGOs, the private sector, and collaborating agencies. HIV/AIDS remains an overwhelming development challenge in Zambia.
Sixteen percent of Zambian adults are HIV+ (women - 18%, men - 13%). In urban areas, two in five women aged 25-39 are infected. Prevalence is significantly higher among young females than their male counterparts.. Among those aged 15-19, rates are 7% among females and 2% among males. Prevalence rises, however, among those aged 20-24 (females - 16%, males - 4%). Mother-to-child transmission also contributes significantly to disease burden. Currently, over 20,000 infants are newly infected each year. In addition to those infected, many others feel the impact. It is estimated that 920,000 people in Zambia are infected with HIV out of a total population of approximately 10 million. The number of persons dying as a result of AIDS is estimated at 89,000 per year, leaving behind a growing number of AIDS orphans, currently estimated at 801,000. Nevertheless, new cases appear to be declining as high-risk sexual behaviors become less common. Despite declining incidence, mortality is likely to continue climbing for at least a few more years.
In Zambia, high prevalence rates are fueled by early initiation of sex, unprotected sex with non-regular partners, concurrent sexual partnerships, low incidence of condom use among high risk groups and individuals, sexual violence against women, and poverty that forces women and girls to sell sex for food, good grades, small gifts, or money. The most at risk individual in Zambia, however, is the seronegative partner in a discordant couple. Annually there is an 11.8% seroconversion of negative partners. It is estimated that 21% of couples are discordant in Lusaka. Other groups at comparatively high risk include highly mobile populations such as migrant workers, sex workers, long distance truck drivers, minibus drivers, refugees, prisoners, uniformed personnel (such as the military and police), and fishmongers.
Knowledge of HIV/AIDS is fairly universal in Zambia. The DHS conducted in Zambia in 1996 and 2002 reported that the proportion of men and women having ever heard of AIDS remained at 99%. The 2002 survey showed that 77.9% of women and 85.5% of men knew of two or more ways of avoiding HIV/AIDS. From 1996 to 2002, the percentage of Zambians that believed that there was no way to prevent HIV/AIDS increased for men from 2.3% to 4.2% and decreased for women from 8.6% to 6.1%."