The World Health Organisation – the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that infects cells of the immune system, destroying or impairing their function. As the infection progresses, the immune system becomes weaker, and the person becomes more susceptible to infections. The most advanced stage of HIV infection is acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). It can take 10-15 years for an HIV-infected person to develop AIDS; antiretroviral drugs can slow down the process even further.
An estimated 36.9 million people have HIV. More than 34 million people have died from the virus, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.
HIV is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse (anal or vaginal), transfusion of contaminated blood, sharing of contaminated needles, and between a mother and her infant during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.
Zambia HIV and AIDS estimates 1.2 million people living with HIV – 2016
- Number of people living with HIV – 1,200,000
- Adults aged 15 to 49 prevalence rate – 12.7% [11.9% – 13.7%]
- Adults aged 15 and up living with HIV – 950,000 [900,000 – 1,000,000]
- Women aged 15 and up living with HIV – 490,000 [460,000 – 530,000]
- Children aged 0 to 14 living with HIV – 160,000 [140,000 – 170,000]
- Deaths due to AIDS – 30,000 [26,000 – 36,000]
- Orphans due to AIDS aged 0 to 17 – 670,000 [600,000 – 760,000]
2016 WHO Statistics taken on average
- In 2016, the world registered 1.8 million new HIV infections
- 19.5 million people are assessing Antiretoviral Therapy
- at the end of 2016 there were approximately 36.9 million people living with HIV
The Butterfly Tree supports HIV and AIDS Prevention projects to fight the pandemic.
Without addressing the problems caused by the HIV virus no real progress can be made. In previous years our projects included funding for voluntary testing and counselling, through an HIV and AIDS support group at Mukuni Health Centre. However, peer education for HIV and AIDS prevention is proving to be far more effective. School leavers have received extesive training to perform workshops in schools and communities. We have sponsored some 500 AIDS orphans in education, empowering them with knowledge to avoid the spread of HIV. We provide assistance for HIV mothers and orphans and funding for treatment for patients suffering from this debilitating disease.
The HIV and AIDS support group, made up entirely of volunteers, work tirelessly to sensitise the communities, help to remove the stigma and offer voluntary testing and counselling. The Butterfly Tree supports these projects in order to reduce the number of new cases. In Zambia one in six adults have HIV and in the Livingstone area, 27% of the population are living with HIV. There are also many children who have been tested positive. Every family is infected or affected by this devastating disease. Our aim is to spread awareness through education, particularly targeting school children, who can make the change.