Dubbed ‘Furaha Yangu, test and treat’, the campaign which is scheduled to be launched in Dodoma will be implemented by the government in collaboration with the United States Agency for International development (USAID), Tulonge Afya project and other health stakeholders.
Addressing a news conference yesterday in Dar es Salaam, the Tanzanian Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS) Executive Director Prof Leonard Maboko said that the campaign will among other things make sure that no one is left behind including penetrating to the interior parts of the country.
He said that among the most targeted sectors are those male dominated sectors in areas like fisheries, construction, mining, transport and so forth.
“There is evidence showing that men’s participation in accessing HIV testing is low compared to women. Statistics shows that 56 per cent of men who are living with HIV/AIDS do not know their status and were not getting treatment,” he said.
Experts say in order to control HIV and AIDS, it is critical that all Tanzanians living with HIV get tested, learn their status, and begin lifesaving treatment.
Prof Maboko said that statistics shows that only 52 per cent of Tanzanians who are living with HIV/AIDS were getting treatment leaving a great number of the group unexposed and untreated including children.
“Despite significant progress that has been made regarding provision of paediatric HIV care and treatment in Tanzania, a good number of children living with HIV/AIDS are yet on treatment and care as they are not exposed,” he said.
According to him, strong health systems are critical for achieving the global goal of ending the AIDS epidemic, including ending HIV/AIDS in children.
For her part, acting Director of Preventive Services in the Ministry for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Dr Angela Ramadhan said that the government was committed to ensure that it mobilises efforts to eliminate the disease by 2030.
“All the preparations were done and we already to launch the campaign, health service providers are all well trained to ensure that every one is reached with the education, test and treat service,” she said.
USAID Deputy Health Office Director Ananthy Thambinayagan said that the campaign has the important mission of informing, educating and supporting individuals across the country to test and access life-saving treatment.
She added that; “We are proud of the commitment that the government of Tanzania has made to scale up HIV prevention, care and treatment services under the Treat All Strategy and acknowledge the importance of sharing this massage with all those impacted by HIV in the country.”
Chairman of the National Council of People Living with HIV/AIDS (NACOPHA) Justine Mwinuka encouraged everyone to make well use of the campaign and seek for HIV/AIDS counselling services and prepare for testing in order to know their status thus get treatment and live a happy life.
“It is the responsibility of every one of us, individually and collectively, to prevent new HIV infections. We therefore appeal to the country as whole to ensure that the next generation is free from HIV, through prevention measures, regular testing and treatment in the case of infection to eliminate mother to child transmission,” he said.
Statistics shows that about 1.4 million people are currently living with HIV, and approximately 11 percent of them are children under 15. Among young people aged 15 to 24 years, the average HIV prevalence is 3.6 per cent and is significantly higher among females than males.