Tanzania: Living positive, living healthy

Tanzania: Living positive, living healthy


Date: November 27, 2018
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By Godfrey Ismaely

Dar es Salaam, 1 December: “My first thought was how people would treat us. I was also afraid that if my husband and I were to die, our children would have no one to care for them. But, I thank God that 7 years later, we’re still surviving and we’re a happy family”

Asha Ramadhan is 42 years old and lives in the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam. When she and her husband were diagnosed with HIV, their first thought was that they would die.

Her first husband died in a motorcycle accident in 2011 and she later remarried. However, she never went for HIV testing with her second husband until she fell pregnant. It was during her checkup at a local health center that both her and her husband were diagnosed with HIV.

The doctor at the hospital advised the mother of three that it was possible for their baby to be born without HIV as long as they followed the health instructions they received. The family began to follow the doctor’s recommendations such as nutritional diets and medicine. In 2012, Asha gave birth to a healthy baby.

She says, the child lives healthily and that as a family, they adhere to all the health principles administered by medical personnel. Asha says that being diagnosed with HIV is not the end of one’s life.

Their son, whom they named Akram, is now six years old and is a standard one student at a government school.

Asha and her husband Ramadhan say that a lot has changed over the last seven years but they are glad to have survived. They now have a vision to do business in order to get plots for building houses.

“It is true that treatment has improved over time and has increased the life expectancy for those who access the medication. We appreciate the effort of the Tanzanian government, scientists and others stakeholders who play a big role to make sure that, those living with HIV/AIDS are under good supervision and care,” She added.

She also said that health centers, dispensaries and hospitals, are playing a big role in educating women about preventing mother to child transmission of the disease.

Regardless of government initiatives to educated people about the disease, there is still a long way to go to ensure maximum sensitization in the country. More than 60% of women and 71% of men age 15-49 know that HIV can be prevented by using condoms and by limiting sexual intercourse to one uninfected partner.

Men are slightly more likely than women to know about the different HIV prevention methods and knowledge of HIV prevention methods is highest among women and men in urban areas and in the highest wealth quintile.

Rural areas need to be sensitized on issue of mother to child transmission. About 85% of women and 79% of  men know  that  HIV can be transmitted by breastfeeding, only about two-thirds of women and men  know  that  the  risk of  MTCT can be reduced by the mother taking  special drugs during pregnancy.

Even with so much HIV and AIDS information readily available, Stigma and discrimination related to HIV/AIDS are still widespread among Tanzanian adults. Although, the majority of women and men say they are willing to care for a family member with AIDS in their home, only 41% of women and 57% of men say that they would not want to keep secret that a family member has HIV.

Women and men in Zanzibar report less HIV/AIDS-related stigma compared with those in Mainland Tanzania.

Another challenge, despite the availability of information, is the reluctance of some people living with HIV to take antiretroviral drugs.

During the opening ceremony of the National Aids Day International Conference for 2018, Antony Peter Mavunde, Deputy Minister for State in the Prime Minister’s Office Responsible for Policy, Parliamentary Affairs, Labor, Employment, Youth and the Disabled said it was important that those diagnosed with HIV continue to take antiretroviral drugs.

“This is important because they will be able to live a healthier life, they need to know that we need them to build our nation,” he continued.

Dr.Leonard Lutegama Maboko, Executive Director for Tanzania Commission for Aids (TACAIDS) said, Tanzania will continue to collaborate with various stakeholders to form specification strategic that will provide more positive results in achieving a Tanzania without HIV for 2030.

UNAIDS Country Director in United Republic of Tanzania, Dr.Leo Zekeng said, Tanzania has taken a major step towards fighting AIDS since the 1980s and with access to treatment since 2010.

“Tanzania can achieve the goal of removing AIDS as a health threat to the community by the year 2030 as part of Millennium goals and Tanzania vision of 2025. However, stigmatization and discrimination still continue to prevent people from getting an  HIV  testing to know their status” He says.

He said there is need for a  strong strategy to eliminate stigmatization and discrimination in all areas particularly in the context of health care in our society.

Progress is being made in ensuring that new point-of-care testing technologies are available and that both adults and children have access to adequate health services.

 

Godfrey Ismaely is a journalist from Tanzania. This article is part of the Gender Links 16 Days News Service.


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