The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has been asked to come up with a special HIV awareness package for its members, who are living in rural areas.
Speaking at the just-ended 2nd NSSF stakeholders’ conference here yesterday, official from the ministry of natural resources and tourism, Josia Gervas said that fund’s members who are in rural settings need to access HIV/Aids education.
He said: “These people are very vulnerable to the disease and yet they are not well-informed on the scourge. So, it is high time the fund expanded its scope when it comes to educating its members on HIV/Aids.”
NSSF with over 500,000 members, some of them in rural areas, is one of the largest security funds in the country.
Gervas explained that large number of people from those areas die because of low level of understanding on how to deal with issues related to HIV/Aids.
“People need to be taught on the use of condoms, because there are different perceptions on this… NSSF should take the issue of HIV/Aids very seriously,” said Joseph Nchimbi, another NSSF member.
“In this, easy access to condoms should be ensured, together with provision of education on consistent and proper condom use.
He underscored the need for thorough education on the use of condoms and other prevention measures to NSSF members and the general public including religious leaders.
Dr Petronia Ngiloi from Tumaini Hospital said male circumcision shouldn’t be taken as an excuse of not contracting HIV.
“There is a very wrong perception amongst men, who are circumcised that they won’t get the virus. This perception should be discouraged,” she said, adding that male circumcision provides only partial protection.
There is compelling evidence that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by approximately 60 percent.
WHO/UNAIDS recommendations emphasise that male circumcision should be considered an efficacious intervention for HIV prevention in countries and regions with heterosexual epidemics, high HIV and low male circumcision prevalence.
Presenting a paper on HIV/Aids, a Dar es Salaam-based medical practitioner, Dr Josephat Shani, stressed the need of having HIV policies in all workplaces, in an effort to raise awareness about the virus, preventing new HIV infection and caring for people living with the scourge.
Working with Tindwa Medical and Health Services (TMHS) Dr Shani stated that having policies in place will play an instrumental role in addressing the magnitude of the problem.
He noted that through those policies, organisations and companies will be able to develop special programmes to prevent new HIV infections, provide care and support for employees who are infected or affected by HIV/AIDS, and manage the impact of the epidemic on the organisation.
“Having policies in place will help addressing stigma against those who are HIV positive and those policies will make companies take the issue of HIV/Aids as a workplace issue because it threatens productivity, profitability and the welfare of employees and their families.”
“The workplace, is an integral part of the community, has vital role to play in terms of prevention. Policies will also help to promote equality and non-discrimination between individuals with HIV infections and those without, and between HIV/Aids and other comparable ealth/medical conditions.”
“This will also create a supportive environment so that employees living with HIV/Aids are able to continue working under normal conditions in their current employment for as long as they are medically fit to do so,” he said.