New survey to paint HIV prevalence in Isles

ZANZIBAR will have its latest statistics on HIV/Aids prevalence after the Isles launched the 2022/23 Tanzania HIV Impact Survey (THIS).

The newly launched survey comes while the previous 2016/17 THIS survey had established that HIV prevalence at national level is 0.4 per cent, with the problem spread remaining high to ‘Most at Risk Populations (MARPs).

Prevalence among the MARPs (sex workers including those engaging in same sex and their clients, drug users especially those who are injecting themselves) was at between 4-5 per cent.

Zanzibar First Vice-President, Othman Masoud Othman officiated the launch of 2022/23 THIS on Wednesday, urging pregnant mothers to observe health precautions in support of the global campaign to eliminate the disease by 2030.

He said the survey is important in enabling the country to have the latest statistics on the spread of HIV, particularly at this time when young people are increasingly engaging in love affairs due to growing use of social media.

Similar event for launching 2022/23 THIS to cover Tanzania mainland took place in Mwanza last month.

“I urge people to cooperate during the survey; they should not be scared or afraid because this is an opportunity to know our HIV status. I also ask researchers or people recruited to conduct this survey to observe ethics and our traditions so that the exercise becomes successful,” Othman said.

Mr Othman promised that the Isles government was ready to provide all necessary collaboration to researchers to achieve the ‘2022/23 THIS’ objectives.

He also urged key players in the planned survey to cover a sample of about 40,000 people in 20,000 households in Zanzibar.

Key players in the upcoming survey include ministries responsible for Health in both Zanzibar and Mainland; Zanzibar AIDS Commission (ZAC) and Tanzania Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS) with support from the United States of America President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and technical support from the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) as well as ICAP at Columbia University.

Data collections will be done by the Tanzania National Bureau of Standards (NBS) and the Office of Chief Government Statistician-Zanzibar (OCGSZ).

Minister of State in the First Vice-President’s Office, who is responsible for campaigns against HIV/AIDS, Ms Harusi Said Suleiman said the survey would help in tackling all forms of HIV related stigma and discrimination.

“The primary objective is to estimate the prevalence of HIV Viral Load (VL) suppression, as we work hard to achieve the global 95-95-95 targets (diagnose 95 per cent of all HIV-positive individuals; provide antiretroviral therapy (ART) for 95 per cent of those diagnosed; and achieve viral suppression for 95 per cent of those treated by 2030,” Ms Suleiman said.

Dr Andemichael Ghirmay, Liaison Officer for the World Health Organisation (WHO) – Zanzibar, commended Tanzania for performing well in the fight against HIV/AIDS, promising continued support.

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