ISLAMIC clerics in Morogoro Region have been urged to spearhead the battle against HIV/Aids among men and youth by encouraging them to undergo testing and use antiretroviral drugs for those who will be found positive, to fast track the global target of ending the epidemic by 2030.
The call was made recently in Morogoro by the Faith and Community Initiative Coordinator from the National Council of People Living with HIV/Aids (NACOPHA) Mr Jovin Riziki, during a conference focused on electing regional leaders of the National Muslim Council of Tanzania, Bakwata.
NACOPHA is implementing a programme to end stigma against people living with HIV/AIDS, known as “Hebu Tuyajenge” financed by the American government through USAID.
The five-year project will be implemented in 22 regions of Tanzania Mainland.
“Most men and youth are not aware of their HIV status and even those who have tested positive do not use ARVs to suppress the virus and take measures to prevent the spread of the disease to others,” Mr Riziki said.
He said that women were leading in going for testing and using ARVs for those who are infected and fight stigma; efforts which are in line with the global target of achieving 95-95-95 goals.
This means 95 per cent of people knowing their HIV status, 95 per cent on treatment and 95 per cent of people on treatment with suppressed viral loads and achieving zero discrimination.
“Men, as heads of families, are supposed to know their HIV status and encourage their family members to go for testing and take the right actions; this can be possible if clerics can use their religious platforms to stress the importance of their involvement in the fight against the disease."
Mr Riziki also said that solid houses of worship depended on the health of the congregations; as such they should provide right information, especially on testing, the right use of ARVs and change behaviours.