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Mothers and babies in rural Zambia Young children in Zambia Community leader meets representatives from ZAFOD

Strengthening the AIDS response Zambia

Strengthening the AIDS Response Zambia (STARZ) was a five year programme aimed at reducing the HIV epidemic and the social and economic consequences of HIV and AIDS.

STARZ brought valuable technical skills ... by the end of the programme, NAC is now self sufficient.

Dr. Ben Chirwa

NAC Director General, Zambia

increase in companies disseminating a written HIV/AIDS policy to employees between 2006 and 2008
civil society projects funded by STARZ
workplace programmes with proven HIV reduction supported by STARZ

STARZ supported the Zambia National HIV/AIDS/STI/TB Council (NAC) and the national HIV response from 2004 to 2009.


At the start of the STARZ programme, AIDS awareness had grown in Zambia and yet, like other African countries, social stigma surrounded the disease. Fearing rejection, many people avoided getting tested or sharing their HIV status.

Focusing on the newly created NAC, the programme worked to enhance the participation of civil society and the private sector in the national multisectoral response to HIV and AIDS, including their capacity for self co-ordination.

Our health experts managed £10.3 million of the £20 million STARZ programme funded by the UK's Department for International Development (DFID).

We worked in partnership with Johns Hopkins University Centre for Communications Programs and Project Management and Training Consultants, Zambia.

Key facts

Support was given to 40 workplace HIV programmes with a proven reduction in HIV infections, and almost 350 civil society projects were funded.

STARZ worked closely with civil society, government and the private sector to implement a joined up approach to HIV prevention


STARZ made a major contribution in improving the co-ordination of Zambia’s HIV response. The country now has an adequate strategy complemented by annual multisectoral plans.

A new coordination mechanism was defined with clear roles for different partners, including civil society and the private sector, and NAC is now able to fulfil basic organisational tasks at national level. NAC institutional capacity has also been strengthened with all secretariat staff positions filled, job descriptions defined and basic management systems in place. Flexible technical support combining long-term knowledge with short-term assistance proved highly effective in assisting change over time.

STARZ was instrumental in enhancing civil society’s HIV response by establishing systems for co-ordination with NAC and by strengthening leadership through increased and stronger self co-ordinating groups. Providing grant funding to CSOs enabled increased involvement in the prevention, treatment and mitigation of HIV and the advocacy of sexual health education. Furthermore, the use of funds supported vulnerable groups including the young and people with disabilities.

By setting up systems of co-ordination between the private sector and NAC and by strengthening private sector leadership, STARZ played a pivotal role in growing the private sector’s HIV response. As a result, the private sector has become a recognised partner in the HIV response. A survey conducted to assess companies for inclusion in the annual private sector directory (involving 115 companies with 89,000 permanent employees) showed that in 2008, 85% of companies had disseminated a written HIV/AIDS policy to employees, as opposed to 60% in 2006.

Value and benefits

  • STARZ successfully fulfilled its objectives of strengthening the capacity of key actors in the Zambian HIV response through the provision of technical support to NAC, civil society and the private sector - by building skills and linking sectors STARZ strengthened Zambian’s ability to work together against HIV.
  • STARZ’s support through civil society grant mechanisms and workplace initiatives ensured resources were available to reach marginalised and at risk populations, and contributed to popularising HIV policies and programmes among Zambian private companies.
  • Many of the developments, best practices and lessons learned have been captured through documentation and analytical papers to support the country’s continuing attempts to protect its population from AIDS.
  • To mark the close of the STARZ programme, DFID commissioned a ten minute film produced by our health consultancy and Full Frame Productions. ‘A Shared Future: Strengthening the AIDS response in Zambia’ gives an overview of the key achievements told through the stories of people who have helped to make STARZ a success. A Shared Future is available to watch at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmZddSanMKI
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