A total of 1, 500 young females and children living in vulnerable environment are expected to benefit from a HIV services project that aims at ensuring smooth access of the services to the groups.
Titled ‘Access to HIV Services and Promote Care and Treatment to Street Connected Orphans, Vulnerable Children, Adolescent Girls and Young Women’, the project is funded by the US Embassy in Tanzania through Ambassador’s Fund for HIV/AIDS Relief (AFHR) to the tune of 40m/-.
It is a-one year project that commenced in December last year and is expected to be concluded in December this year.
It will be implemented by a local nongovernmental organisation (NGO) – Cheka Sana Tanzania, in Kirumba and Bugogwa wards of Ilemela District.
Introducing the project here on Monday, the NGO Executive Director, Mr Malembo Makene, said that the two wards have been considered to benefit from the project due to high HIV prevalence rate.
“Basing on our working experience in these areas through various projects which are still underway these wards, between 10 and 15 per cent of the children, young females have been using illegal drugs and other intoxicating stuff, so that they can address their stresses caused by street life hardships. As a result, they are engaging in risky sexual behaviors that expose them to HIV infections,” said Mr Makene.
He added that experience shows that the targeted beneficiaries face various kinds of gender based violence, a situation that also exposes them to HIV infections. He further detailed that the groups have no access to education on health and various diseases, including HIV and reproductive health.
It was further noted that girls are set to undergo HIV screening and help those who will test positive to access medication to prevent new infections. The young girls will also benefit from financial services education to enable them to engage in various economic activities and avoid street lives.
“They will be connected to relevant loans authorities for their investments,” said Mr Makene, adding that about 95 per cent of beneficiaries are expected to be reconnected to their families at the end of the project, a move that will also assure HIV service access to the needy.
Both beneficiaries and their parents/guardians will also be connected to groups of Village Community Banking, for improvements and sustainability of their wellbeing.
The meeting participants proposed regular public education, to help young girls to know how best they can access HIV related services.
At the same time, relevant authorities should establish the services near to girls living in risky environments, because long travel to and from a health facility to access the services has been cited as one of the factors which affects the HIV fight efforts.
“Most of them are desperate… they need counseling and use of a friendly language,” said the Kirumba Ward Community Development Officer, Mr David Lugeriji.