HEALTH, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Ministry has embarked on ‘Moonlight’ pilot project to reach men in their hiding places and persuade them for HIV/AIDS test.
Deputy Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Dr Faustine Ndugulile, speaking during his visit to the East African Arts and Culture Festival—JAMAFEST 2019, said the project responds to statistics that revealed most men don’t turn up for HIV screening, relying on their spouses’ test results.
JAMAFEST aims at strengthening unity and integration of the six EastAfrican nations through arts and crafts, culture and traditions.
“The country now has the 90:90:90 goal—90 per cent of Tanzanians should screen and be aware of their HIV/ AIDS status, 90 per cent of the screened be provided with medicine and 90 per cent of those taking medication to completely weaken the virus,” observed Dr Ndugulile.
He stated the ministry had drawn strategies and reached 75 per cent of the first 90 per cent.
“However, we face a serious challenge as majorities don’t turn up for screening… they let their partners come for the screening and perceive the results as theirs too. One of the strategies under the moonlight project is to follow men wherever they are—in bars, fishing camps and mining areas—the ministry targets men at sports grounds as well. We will put our camps at the stadiums during games and persuade them to come for screening,” explained the deputy minister.
This piloted Moonlight project involves people from the ministry who will visit different places to persuade men to undergo screening for HIV.
“The project is still on its pilot stage and so far it has shown great success. If the project succeeds, it will be rolled out to the entire country, aiming to reach most men,” he explained.
Statistics show that many men abhor screening and even the few who opt to test take long time to start treatment and even those who start using medicine don’t follow the dosage properly, leading to deaths of more men.
Dr Ndugulile explained that there were children who were born HIV positive and some have graduated from universities and are married with children who are HIV negative as long as they follow the medication rules.
“The national HIV infection rate is now at 4.7 per cent and is dropping, but what is now alarming is the increase of infection rate among the youth. We have already started strategising on how to save them,” he said.