HIV testing: Consent age set for review

02Feb 2019
The Guardian Reporter
DODOMA
The Guardian
HIV testing: Consent age set for review

THE government is set to review laws to reduce the age of consent from 18 to 15 years so that adolescent girls can be tested for HIV/Aids as part of efforts to curb prevalence of the disease amongst the at-risk group.

HIV/Aids

The age of consent in Tanzania is 18 years of age. It is the minimum age at which an individual is considered legally old enough to consent to sexual relations.

Dr Faustine Ndugulile, the Deputy Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children said the move is expected to enable authorities to conduct HIV test to a good number of people especially teenage girls who are increasingly being infected with the disease.

Section 431 of the Tanzania HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Act will be revised to allow teenage girls aged 15 years to undergo testing when required.

“We are changing the consent age to provide room for HIV testing for the girls. The process is progressing well and will soon be approved. Implementation of HIV testing will contribute to     attainment of the 90-90-90 target,” Dr Ndugulile affirmed.

Under the 90-90-90 vision, the target is to help end the AIDS pandemic by ensuring that 90 percent of all the people living with HIV know their status, 90 percent of all people diagnosed with HIV infection receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90 percent of all people receiving ARVs have viral suppression.

The various interventions done by the government to attain its 90-90-90 target include ensuring that all HIV positive individuals are enrolled to start using antiretroviral therapy (ARV) without having to wait for appropriate levels of their CD4 count, he said.

Various campaigns have been conducted across the country to encourage people to frequently check their health status.

 

He was responding to a question by Mtambile MP Masoud Salim (CUF) who wanted to know the government strategies to attain the 90-90-90 target which aims to ensure that all HIV positive individuals know their status by 2020.

 

 The latest survey from the Tanzania Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS) shows that the national HIV average infection rate decreased to 4.7 percent in 2016/17 from 7.5 percent in 2007/08.

 

 HIV infections are high in urban areas among adults aged between 15 and 49 years whereby women account for 6.2 percent and men 3.1 percent.

 

In urban areas, the current infection rate among women aged between 15-49 years is 7.8 percent compared to men’s 2.8 percent of the same age.

 

Themed ‘every drop counts,’ the national HIV/Aids survey indicates that 5.8 percent of adults aged 50 years and above are living with HIV. Of the number, 6.5 percent are women and 5.0 percent are men.

 

However, the report indicates that 2.2 percent of youths in the country (15-49 years) are HIV positive.

 

Approximately 81,000 Tanzanians adults are infected with HIV annually. There are nearly 1.4 million people living with HIV in the country whereas around 52 percent of those living with the virus know their status.

 

The survey indicated that Njombe region has the highest HIV prevalence (11.4 percent) followed by Iringa (11.3 percent) and Mbeya (9.3 percent). Lindi region and Zanzibar have the lowest HIV prevalence of less than 1 percent.

 

The disease prevalence in other regions was listed as Dodoma (5.0 percent), Songwe (5.8 percent), Geita (5.0 percent), Simiyu (3.9 percent), Katavi (5.9 percent), Manyara (2.3 percent), Mara (3.6 percent), Mwanza (7.2 percent), Kagera (6.5 percent), Shinyanga (2.9 percent), Kigoma (2.9 percent), Rukwa (4.4 per cent), Tabora 5.1 percent), Singida (3.6 percent) and Ruvuma (5.6 percent).

 

Others are Mtwara (2.0 percent), Lindi (0.3 percent), Dar es Salaam (4.7 percent), Morogoro (4.2 percent), Tanga (5 percent), Kilimanjaro (2.6 percent), Arusha (1.9 percent) and Coast region (5.5 percent).