Catherine Nalungwe had to cope with the deaths of three of her children, who died one after another before the age of three in the early 2000s. Unsure of the cause, she and her family felt both pain and confusion over the loss of their children. Catherine later tested positive for HIV in 2002, but she had no access to treatment through nearby health facilities at that time. She finally began treatment in 2004, thanks to improved access to HIV/AIDS services in Zambia.
Zambia has made significant progress in its effort to ensure that more people get tested for HIV/AIDS and receive the life-saving medicines they need in a timely manner. UNAIDS estimates that the number of HIV/AIDS-related deaths in the country has decreased by about 75 percent since 2002 when Catherine received her positive diagnosis. This success stems from the country’s and its partners’ commitment to the UNAIDS 90-90-90 strategy, which calls for initiation of treatment immediately after a patient tests positive for HIV. The strategy also requires that all people living with the virus stick to a lifelong treatment regimen. This “Test and Start” approach and the need for lifelong treatment require the availability of commodities like antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) and testing supplies.