Clerics urged to spearhead HIV fight

02Jul 2020
The Guardian
 Clerics urged to spearhead HIV fight

​​​​​​​RELIGIOUS leaders have been urged to play an indomitable role in addressing stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and Aids (PLWA), which is one of the serious challenges thwarting the war against the scourge in the country.

A member of the National Muslim Council of Tanzania in Morogoro Region, Zahara Kitime made the call here when speaking at the just-ended council’s election meeting. He said HIV/Aids is no longer a threat following availability of the life prolonging drugs (ARVs).

Kitime said that those who are infected with the virus do not need to worry as they can still continue to survive while using the ARVs. He said HIV/Aids patients using the drugs are only required to adhere to professional advices from health experts.

“A lot of people lost their lives before scientists some up with the drugs, the disease is no longer a threat,” said Kitima calling upon Tanzanians to check their health status so that those who test positive start using ARVs.

Morogoro Regional Sheikh, Twaha Kilango said clerics across the country are committed to support the government towards attaining the 90-90-90 campaign this year and the 95-95-95 by 2030.

Under the 90-90-90 campaign which aims at ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030, the government wants 90 percent of all the people living with HIV to know their status, 90 percent of all people diagnosed with HIV infections receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90 percent of all people receiving ARVs have viral suppression.

Faith and community initiative coordinator of NACOPHA, Jovin Riziki said that in Tanzania, a total of 72,000 people are infected with HIV every year, equivalent to 200 people per day.

At least 40 percent of the new infections are youth aged between 15 and 24 years.

Riziki said: “Nearly 90 percent of the country’s population belongs to different religious denominations, clerics play a crucial role in encouraging HIV/Aids testing as well as advocate for society’s behavior change.”

The campaign to end stigma against people living with HIV/Aids is implemented by NACOPHA through the ‘Hebu Tuyajenge’ project with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Tanzania has 1.4 million people affected by HIV and the government wants 90 per cent of the country’s population to know their status, whereas currently it is only 62 per cent who know their status.

It is estimated that over 3000 patients died in sub- Saharan Africa on a daily basis due to HIV in 2015.

Ten countries in Africa carry 80 per cent of the total HIV burden, namely South Africa, Kenya, Malawi, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Nigeria, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

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