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HIV infections down 38pc

HIV infections down 38pc

TANZANIA has greatly reduced new HIV/AIDS infections by 38.2 percent in the past 10 years. Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa revealed yesterday that new infections have dropped from 110,000 in 2010 to 68,000 last year.

Mr Majaliwa made the revelations during national event to mark the climax of the World AIDS Day in Mbeya region, where he also noted that the number of deaths from the disease has reduced by 50 per cent during the corresponding period from 64,000 to 32,000 deaths.

Likewise, the prevalence rate went down from the previous 7 percent in the year 2003/2004 to 4.7 percent in 2006/2007.

Mr Majaliwa said the achievements were owed to the various initiatives taken by the government in collaboration with key stakeholders in fighting the epidemic. “HIV/AIDS status testing has also recorded an increase from 61 percent in 2016 to 83 percent in the year 2019...the government has extended the scope, where people can carry out self-testing.

“Use of antiretroviral (ARVs) has prevented the virus from multiplying by 92 percent (2019) from the previous 87 percent in 2016,” said Mr Majaliwa, adding that people should continue taking all necessary preventive measures against the disease, including going for regular testing.

The Premier also indicated that various efforts taken by the government to improve mother and child care has helped to slow down the rate of infection from mothers to their newborns from 18 percent to 7 percent.

Despite the achievements which have been recorded in reducing the number of new infections and deaths related to HIV/AIDS, he noted that still more should be done to ensure the country arrives at its goals of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS comes the year 2030.

The PM, equally, stressed on the need for increased publics awareness in the public to attain goals of ending HIV/ AIDS in the country.

“Let’s engage our religious, political, tradition leaders among other prominent people in our societies to raise awareness on the issue of HIV/AIDS revolving around harmful traditions and customs such as gender based violence which largely contributes to the disease,” he pointed out.

He expressed the commitment of the government to back the United Nations political declaration on HIV and AIDS in order to get the world on track to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

Equally, Tanzania will support Global AIDS Strategy 2021–2026 with the goal of ending HIV/AIDS, noting that the country will ensure its national strategies and programmes are in line with the strategy.

He urged the international community through the UNAIDS to continue providing support on expertise and financial resources to support the country not to lag behind in the execution of the strategy.

Elaborating, Mr Majaliwa cautioned against any acts of discrimination and stigmatization against people who are infected with HIV and AIDS, indicating that stern measures will be taken against anyone who will be implicated.

Thus, he called upon relevant authorities to take strong measures against people who stigmatize individuals living with HIV/AIDS, noting that such acts are frustrating government efforts in the fight against the epidemic.

The Premier also sent a wakeup call to the health attendants with the tendency of stigmatizing and leaking HIV/AIDS patients’ information, calling upon the health ministry to scrutinize the issue and disciplinary action against the parties involved in the uncalled for acts.

Elaborating on the AIDS Trust Fund which was established in 2015, he said, the government will continue providing budgetary support as deemed fit, directing the health ministry in collaboration with the Tanzania AIDS Commission (TACAIDS) to devise a plan which will enable the activities of the fund to reduce donor dependency.

On the other hand, the Ministry of Health should introduce a mechanism and coordinate concerns relating to stigma against people with HIV/AIDS. Besides, they should embark on the construction of youth centres in every zone to enable capacity building, economic empowerment and skills development among drug victims and adolescents as a means to prevent them from contracting HIV/AIDS.

As for TACAIDS, the PM urged them to ensure the national strategy on HIV/AIDS is in line with the needs and available environment in the country.

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Author: MAUREEN ODUNGA

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