In Tanzania, HIV/AIDS is a far-reaching epidemic. The country ranks 13th in the world for prevalence (source), and 7th in regard to HIV-related deaths, with more than 33,000 people dying from the disease annually (source). In 2011, the Tanzanian Government commissioned its Bureau of Statistics to complete a National HIV and Malaria survey and the results, published in the UNAIDS World AIDS day report 2012, and found that over 1.6million Tanzanians were HIV positive. Due to a lack of testing, treatment and education there has been an estimated 1.3million children orphaned or left without a capable guardian, directly as a result of HIV.
Locally, opinions vary regarding HIV testing and education. The success of HIV prevention initiatives can be compromised where individuals are scared to be labelled as homosexuals, promiscuous, or unfaithful partners. It is “a shame thing”, says Pastor Enock, to be tested, get information or even talk openly about HIV. This trend has been confirmed by the 2013 NACOPHA Stigma report which concluded that almost half of Tanzanians living with HIV surveyed “had low self esteem, and 30% felt ashamed” (source). Stigmatisation around testing, treatment and living with HIV is, according to local opinion, on the decline but remains a major hindrance to fighting the disease.
Recognising the need for HIV/AIDs education in the region, KLSS Chaplin Reverend Enock Reweyemamu began discussions with Katoke Trust founder Alan Watson in 2013. The pair decided that the Trust would assist with funding to facilitate annual HIV/AIDS education seminars in the Katoke area. Pastor Enock and three clergy colleagues from neighbouring areas planned and promoted the seminars to be held on the Katoke Lweru Secondary School campus. The pastors visited local villages, knocking on doors, delivering invitation letters, distributing flyers and putting up posters. Their footwork paid off, with every seat at the first seminars in 2014 filled.
An existing group of AIDS educators, the Tanzania Development and AIDS Prevention Association (TADEPA) were commissioned to run the seminars. The seminars assisted in basic education about prevention, testing and reducing the stigma around understanding the disease. They provided attendees with a free lunch, and TADEPA distributed hundreds of informational booklets that attendees could use to share what they had learned with family and friends.
Today in Tanzania, prevention strategies still circulate around abstinence, which would presumably take place within a monogamous marriage structure. However, with no prophylactic programs in place and the simple denial of any sexual activity before or outside of marriage, the spread of HIV continues.
The trust was unable to prioritise funding in 2017 to run seminars at KLSS with TADEPA. The cost of seminars is around AU$1100 which can educate and provide access to treatment for hundreds of Katoke regions residents.
Any contribution towards this vital program is appreciated, simply visit the Donate page of our website and make a note in the donation form if you’d like your contribution to be directed to HIV/AIDS education.
Further reading links:
UNAIDS World AIDS day report 2012
AVERT.ORG – HIV/AIDS in Tanzania
DW.COM – Tanzania’s long battle with HIV/AIDS
CIA World Factbook – HIV world prevalence chart