--BBC News has been to Zambia as part of a special series looking
at how Africa is faring one year on after the promises of
increased aid made at the G8 summit in Gleneagles.
Jon Cronin reports from Kabwe, where a husband and wife both
infected with HIV are taking on prejudices surrounding the virus.
In a run-down former mining town in the heart of Zambia, a
newly-wed couple are hoping to change the way a country views
Solomon and Matildah Maimisa were married a few months ago, and
their wedding caused a stir not just in their home town of Kabwe
but across Zambia.
Solomon and Matildah are both HIV positive. They have been living
with the virus for several years, and they are determined that
their marriage should act as an example to others.
"I and my wife Matildah want to see a change in Zambia, whereby
people don't look at those with HIV as different," says Solomon,
38, from the living room of the house he built himself.
"You can still live a better life so long as you accept your
life, so long as you accept your status."
The spread of HIV and Aids is one of the greatest threats facing
Already one of the poorest countries in the world, the virus is
destroying communities and robbing the country of the very people
it needs to build its economy.
Nationally, the HIV infection rate stands at about 16%. But in
Kabwe, a town of some 200,000 people, it is estimated that half
the population are HIV positive.
The crisis is compounded by the fact that only a fraction of
those people carrying the virus know - or are prepared to find
out - whether they are HIV positive.
It was against this background that Solomon and Matildah - who
are both care workers for local HIV/Aids programmes - decided to
make their marriage a public event to raise awareness about the
They met for the first time on World Aids Day four years ago.
"I had that feeling that one day he would be my husband," says
Matildah, 35. "When he proposed, I was the happiest lady."
But the marriage of a couple who were publicly open about the
virus they were carrying was almost unheard of in Zambia, and a
meeting was organised in Kabwe to spark debate in the community.
"We asked people if it was good for someone who is HIV positive
to marry", says Solomon.
"We wanted to encourage people, to tell them that even if you are
HIV positive, you are still human," adds Matildah.
Their wedding in February this year was given widespread coverage
in one of Zambia's national newspapers, and resulted in a flood
of calls from people inspired by their actions.
"People looked at me differently afterwards," says Solomon.
Fear and shame
Solomon remembers his own reaction when he first discovered he
was HIV positive.
"There was fear, there was shame within myself. I never thought
that it could come to me, I was just waiting for the end of the
One of the main problems facing those with the HIV virus is
discrimination, says Solomon.
"The stigma attached to being HIV positive is something that is
really difficult to us as Zambians," he says. "Its difficult to
be open and know your HIV status."
Despite the increasing threat of the virus, most people are still
reluctant to talk openly about their condition or be seen in
clinics where anti-retroviral drugs are available
"People stigmatize themselves," says Solomon.
"They mainly lack information about HIV and Aids, so we need to
[teach] people more," says Matildah.
Kabwe's geographical location in the centre Zambia, on the main
transit route linking the south with the mines of the Copperbelt
in north and the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania
beyond, adds to the problems it faces.
The town's copper industry was scrapped more than a decade ago
after the mines were privatised, leaving thousands of people
Prostitution, and the crime that often follows it, is now
"The majority of our youth are engaged in the sex business," says
"Our economy has stalled, we are really going backwards. When I
look at the number of street kids, when I look at the number of
orphans, it's really bad for our economy."
And yet Solomon and Matildah remain positive.
They hope that some of the extra millions of dollars in aid
promised last year by the rich countries at the G8 summit in
Gleneagles will find its way to organisations combating the
spread of HIV and Aids in Africa.
"That is what we want," says Solomon. "That is what we are
A reserved and softly-spoken couple, Solomon and Matildah also
hope eventually - with the aid of drugs which prevent the spread
of the HIV virus from mother to child - to have a baby.
"God willing," whispers Matildah to husband, at the thought of
the future with a child of their own.