‘Stigma is major obstacle to reach global HIV/Aids targets’

09Mar 2020
Correspondent
Dodoma
The Guardian
‘Stigma is major obstacle to reach global HIV/Aids targets’

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa is today expected to launch a sustainable campaign to wage the war against stigma on people living with HIV and Tuberculosis (TB).

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa.

Chairman of HIV/Aids, TB and Narcotics Parliamentary Committee Oscar Mukasa, said the campaign will involve religious leaders to help in fighting stigma that thwarts Tanzania reach the targets.

Stigma is among the major obstacles to  reach global HIV/AIDS targets. The campaign is being spearheaded by the government in collaboration of parliament and the national council of people living with HIV (NACOPHA) whereby Speaker of the National Assembly Job Ndugai will bring in religious leaders at Pius Msekwa Hall in Dodoma, Mukasa said.

He explained that they have decided to incorporate religious leaders because more than 90 per cent of Tanzanians are adherents to various denominations hence it will be easier to provide education to the society. 

“The aim of the campaign is that by 2025 we should reach global target of 95-95-95 percent,” he said, and elaborated that the first ‘95’ wants Tanzanians living with HIV know their statuses, and the second ‘95’ wants them join ARV treatment and the third ‘95’ wants them to use well the treatment they receive.

However, he said as of now in regard to the first ‘95’ Tanzania is at 62 per cent and in the second and third ‘95’ it is at more than 90 per cent.

“Stigma is main cause in failing to reach the first 95 per cent in knowing our HIV status , so the reason we use religious leaders is because they have platforms that bring together very many Tanzanians,” Mukasa explained.

On his part, NACOPHA chief executive officer

Deogratius Rutatwa said religious leaders hold are crucial people   in effecting changes in the fight against stigma.

"We shall have a religious leader from Uganda who lives with HIV, a parliamentarian from Zambia also living with HIV who will talk about their experiences and we   want participants from Tanzania to also open up as HIV does not discriminate,” he said.

He thanked the US government through its President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the United states Agency for International development (USAid) for sponsoring the campaign.

He said the campaign aims to ensure Tanzania reaches global targets and added:

"We cannot reach the three ‘95s’ if we cannot eradicate stigma because even those who are on ARV abandon the treatment in fear of stigma, while others hide  the drugs to avoid finger pointing,” he stressed.

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