AIDS – 93% NOT AFFECTED

A recent Daily News article under this heading wanted to emphasise the positive. It was reporting on a study commissioned by the Tanzania Commission for Aids on the transmission of HIV/AIDS which revealed that only 7% of Tanzanians have been affected while 93% are still safe. It wrote that these findings also indicated a positive sexual behavioural change, and that Tanzanians’ awareness of the virus transmission and prevention was close to 100%. For example 76% of women were aware that food sharing could not transmit AIDS compared with 58% in 1999. “Young women and men are now waiting longer before having first sex and fewer of them have multiple partners,” TACAIDS Chairman Herman Lupogo, was quoted as saying. He added that HIV/AIDS prevalence nationwide was twice as high in urban as in rural areas, with Mbeya and Iringa regions topping the infection rate at 13%. The most vulnerable people were the wealthier and the highly educated.

Others are less upbeat – The Danish Ambassador Mr. Peter Lysholt Hansen has been quoted as saying “The figure of just eight percent is an illusion. I am convinced the real figure is higher.” The WHO/UNAIDS 2004 report on the global epidemic estimates that in 2003 some 160,000 people died in Tanzania as a direct result of AIDS and that there were 1.6 million people living with HIV, around 9% of the population. According to UNAIDS statistics, life expectancy at birth in 2005 has fallen to 43.9 years, there are thought to be 980,000 children orphaned as a
result of AIDS, and more than 50 percent of all hospital beds are occupied by people with HIV/AIDS, according to the Ministry of Health.

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