Govt identifies challenges in HIV fight

THE government has cited discrimination, cruelty and inequality as challenges towards the national response to HIV/AIDS and hold back the efforts to eradicate the pandemic.

This was said here by Dodoma Regional Commissioner Rosemary Senyamule who represented the Minister of State, Prime Minister’s Office, Policy, Coordination and Parliament, George Simbachawene during the commemoration of the International Day of Racial Discrimination.

Ms Senyamule said inequality, outdated traditions, discrimination, exclusion and stigma contribute to the new HIV infections.

“When we talk about gender inequality, dangerous traditions and violence, women and girls are the most affected victims, and of course, there is a strong relationship between HIV infection and gender inequality” she said.

“HIV infections among women and girls are caused by inequality in gender relations and gender-based violence, therefore, it is a fact that gender-based violence is a catalyst for HIV infection and harm” she added.

She said that some women and girls have contracted HIV as a result of sexual violence and that they continue to be at risk of violence especially after revealing their health status.

Ms Senyamule noted that, the government had ensured availability of ARV without any challenge and it asks all those who have already tested HIV positive to start and continue using ARVs as directed by health professionals.

The Dodoma RC also advised health service providers to avoid racial discrimination actions and derogatory language for Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV) when they seek services.

She said the government had already put in place good policies and systems, institutional plans and national guidelines that have created a good environment for improving human rights, gender equality and community cooperation.

“However, there are still signs of racial discriminations at workplaces, I suggest that all institutions in the country review their plans and strengthen HIV interventions at workplaces and those who have tested HIV positive should be given appropriate services and cooperation  they need to improve their health,” she insisted.

The RC explained that the government would continue to create an enabling environment to work with development stakeholders and other organizations in the country to achieve a Tanzania Zero HIV infections, AIDS-related deaths as well as ending racial discrimination.

On her part the UNAIDS Organization representative, Dr Grace Mlay, said that discrimination increases the risk of HIV infection or reduces the adherence to HIV drugs and thus increase AIDS death.

“Our call is to use research information to formulate effective plans to eradicate discrimination in order to achieve the three zero goals, namely Zero new infections, Zero discrimination and stigma and Zero AIDS deaths,” said Ms Grace.

The Chairman of the National Council of People Living with AIDS in Tanzania (NACOPHA), Ms Leticia Mourice, said that stigma and discrimination in society were the main contribution of people failing to get the best HIV and AIDS services including voluntary HIV testing, treatment and training.

“We ask the government to continue taking strict action against people who commit acts of discrimination and violence against HIV positive people, by doing so we can achieve the world’s goals of eradicating AIDS by 2030,” she said.

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