MOROGORO: TANZANIA has made significant strides in lowering the rate of new HIV infections while ensuring that those who already have the virus receive the necessary medical care.
Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa revealed this yesterday in Morogoro Region at an event to mark World AIDS Day.
Mr Majaliwa, who also launched the Tanzania HIV Impact Survey (THIS) 2022/23, said the report indicates a continuing decrease in the annual incidence of HIV among adults aged 15 to 64 years in Tanzania.
“New cases of HIV annually among adults aged 15 to 64 years continue to decrease from 72,000 people in 2016/2017 to 60,000 people in 2022/2023. This is equivalent to a decrease of 0.18 per cent, with 0.24 per cent being women and 0.11 per cent being men,” the Premier said.
He said the government decided to conduct THIS, a household-based national survey, to measure the status of Tanzania’s national HIV response, and the results have shown great success in the fight against HIV.
The survey assesses the uptake of HIV care and treatment services, as well as measures national HIV incidence and viral load suppression, among other things. According to Mr Majaliwa, the results provide information on national and regional progress toward controlling the HIV epidemic.
The survey has revealed an increase in the prevalence of Viral Load Suppression (VLS) among HIV-positive adults in Tanzania, averaging at 78 per cent.
Premier Majaliwa explained that the rate of HIV suppression for women has increased by 80.9 per cent and for men by 72.2 per cent, compared to 52.5 per cent in the 2016/2017 survey.
The PM stated that the prevalence of HIV in adults over the age of 15 in mainland Tanzania varies from 1.7 per cent in Kigoma Region to 12.7 per cent in Njombe, Mbeya and Iringa regions.
“The prevalence rate in Njombe Region is about 9 per cent, which is double the national average. In Zanzibar, it varies from 0.8 per cent in the Southern Unguja Region to 0.2 per cent in the Northern Pemba Region,” Mr Majaliwa stated.
The research has also shown that 98 per cent of people who know their status have started using VLS, compared to 94 per cent previously. Additionally, those who use VLS and have achieved results are 94 per cent, compared to 87 per cent in 2016/2017.
“Based on these results, Tanzania has made great strides and achieved success in achieving the 95-95-95 goals, but we still need to exceed the goals set,” Mr Majaliwa said.
Based on the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) goals of 95-95-95, the study shows that among people aged 15 and over living with HIV infection, 83 per cent know their infection status, compared to 61 per cent in 2016/217.
The Joint UNAIDS established the 95-95-95 targets, which call for 95 per cent of all people living with HIV to know their HIV status, 95 per cent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection to receive sustained antiretroviral therapy, and 95 per cent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy to have viral suppression by 2030.
Mr Majaliwa specifically instructed young people to honour and value their lives by protecting themselves from new HIV infections.
“All stakeholders should prioritise this important group to save them from the effects of AIDS.”
He also advised those who are HIV positive to continue using VLS as prescribed to combat the illness and enhance their quality of life.
Mr Majaliwa further said men have lower awareness of their HIV status than women. Men also have lower linkage to treatment and viral load suppression compared to women.
“HIV prevention among women and rapid acceleration of HIV diagnosis, combined with improved linkage to treatment and viral load suppression among men, is critical for epidemic control,” he added.
He urged political, religious and traditional leaders to continue advocating for HIV-positive individuals and denounce prejudice against them.
Previously, Jenista Mhagama, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (Policy, Parliament and Coordination), stated that her office would work with the Ministry of Health to ensure that Tanzanian youths are protected from the AIDS pandemic.
On her side, Ummy Mwalimu, the Minister of Health, announced that her department has initiated a programme to harmonise HIV, STDs and hepatitis to address the rapid spread of HIV infection. This is because the transmission mechanisms of these illnesses are quite similar.
She stated that the decision was made in response to the discovery that 4.4 per cent of Tanzanians suffer from liver disease.
Ms Mwalimu further explained the ministry’s strategy for delivering healthcare to the community, stating that 137,000 community health workers will be recruited to operate at the grassroots level.