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The HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Tanzania

HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Tanzania
UNAIDS data from 2021 shows that about 1.7 million people in Tanzania live with HIV. The prevalence rate of HIV among adults between 15 and 49 is about 4.5%. Despite these challenges, the country has progressed in increasing access to HIV testing and antiretroviral therapy in recent years. However, much work remains in addressing the underlying factors driving the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Tanzania, including poverty, gender inequality and stigma/discrimination against key populations.

Poverty and Aids in Tanzania

According to the World Bank, in 2018, almost 45% of the population survived on $2.15 or less daily. HIV/AIDS and poverty are closely linked as circumstances of poverty can increase the risk of HIV infection.

Poverty can limit access to education, health care and economic opportunities, making it more difficult for people to protect themselves from HIV and access HIV prevention and treatment services. People living in poverty are also more likely to experience malnutrition and an HIV infection can worsen these preexisting conditions.

The disease disproportionately affects adolescent and adult females in the country — this group makes up about 80% of new HIV infections in Tanzania. Tanzania’s objective is to achieve “HIV epidemic control by 2030,” and with the aid of international charities and foreign aid, Tanzania is making progress toward this goal.

NGOs Addressing the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Tanzania

The Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) is a nonprofit organization working to improve the lives of children living with HIV/AIDS for more than 30 years. Its focus on prevention, care and treatment is crucial in the fight against HIV/AIDS, especially in Tanzania where “Tanzania has the third-highest number of HIV-positive children in sub-Saharan Africa,” the nonprofit’s website says.

EGPAF-Tanzania is currently enabling more than 120,000 HIV-positive adults and more than 6,500 children in Tanzania with access to antiretroviral treatment. Over the last year, EGPAF has provided HIV testing to close to 500,000 Tanzanians and has identified more than 22,000 newly detected HIV cases. Additionally, EGPAF has provided more than 5,000 pregnant females with treatments to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission.

Frameworks and Foreign Aid

In December 2022, President Samia launched Tanzania’s fifth Multisectoral National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS. Under this strategy, Tanzania seeks to align with UNAIDS’s vision of “zero new infection, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related death” by 2026. The world target is to reach the three zeros by the year 2030.

Tanzania is also heavily reliant on external financing, and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which came into effect in 2003, is the “largest commitment by any nation to address a single disease in the world.” As of 2022, the U.S. government has invested $5.4 billion in “bilateral HIV efforts” and $1.6 billion in “multilateral efforts,” which includes $50 million for UNAIDS and $1.56 billion for the Global Fund.

Next Steps

Tanzania has made significant progress in reaching the UNAIDS 95-95-95 targets, which aim to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030. The targets aim to have 95% of people living with HIV diagnosed, 95% of those diagnosed on antiretroviral therapy (ART) and 95% of those on ART with suppressed viral loads.

According to UNICEF, Tanzania’s progress toward the 95–95–95 national goal for 2022 stood as follows: 83% of people with HIV knew their status, 95% of people living with HIV received treatment and 92% of people on treatment experienced viral suppression.

Looking Ahead

Knowing one’s HIV status is critical for accessing treatment and preventing the transmission of the virus to others. With more people living with HIV in Tanzania aware of their status, more individuals can receive the care and support to manage their conditions and prevent the further spread of the virus.

However, it is important to note that there are still individuals in Tanzania who are living with HIV and are unaware of their status. Efforts need to continue to increase HIV testing and encourage individuals to get tested regularly. Additionally, there is a need to address the barriers that may prevent some individuals from getting tested, such as stigma and discrimination.

Overall, while Tanzania has made significant progress, the country must continue to take action in this sector. However, Tanzania is on course to reach the UNAIDS 95-95-95 objectives by 2025. The Tanzanian government can better control the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Tanzania with the aid of groups like the Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric AIDS Foundation.

– Lauryn Defreitas
Photo: Flickr