ECONOMIC gains in the country will be reversed if the spread of HIV/AIDS among drivers and construction workers continues at an unabated pace, Eastern Province permanent secretary Chanda Kasolo has said.
Mr Kasolo said the transport sector is one of the largest sources of employment but unfortunately workers are more prone to contracting HIV.
He made the remarks in a speech read on his behalf by Chipata acting district agriculture coordinator Alfonso Kahalawe during the HIV/AIDS wellness sports day organised by the Ministry of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications at David Kaunda Stadium on Friday in Chipata.
In Zambia, HIV/AIDS prevalence is concentrated in urban areas, along the line of rail and major truck routes. Mr Kasolo said the pandemic has taken its toll on the long distance truck drivers and construction workers.
Mr Kasolo said the spread of HIV in the sectors is heightened by the nature of work whereby people stay away from their families for a long time.
He said border and transit towns such as Chirundu, Livingstone, Kafue, Kapiri Mposhi, Nakonde, Kasumbalesa, Chipata and Mwami as well as Chanida have high HIV/AIDS prevalence rates because of activities of commercial sex work.
He said the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in these towns is equally high compared to other locations.
Mr Kasolo said the loss of human life in sectors most vulnerable to HIV has resulted in decreased productivity and high costs of training human resource.
He said the most affected age group ranges from 20 to 55, adding that these need sensitisation to protect them from risky behaviour and premature deaths.
Mr Kasolo said apart from the decimated workforce, millions of children in sub-Saharan Africa are losing their parents due to HIV and AIDS.
He said Government is committed to stopping the spread of HIV and AIDS scourge. To this effect, Government is promoting the maintenance of a healthy workforce and will provide resources to HIV/AIDS programmes in workplaces.