Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda released the results from a recent survey carried out by National Bureau of Statistics with assistance from USAID. The survey interviewed and took blood samples from more than 9,000 women aged 15-49 and close to 7,000 men aged 15-49 in all 26 regions of Tanzania. The results indicated a 4.7% HIV prevalence rate among men and a 6.8% rate among women. This is a slight improvement over the 2003-04 survey which found rates of 6.3% and 7.7% respectively.

Iringa recorded the highest rate of 14.7% (previously 13.4%) followed by Dar es Salaam at 8.9% (previously 10.9%), Mbeya at 7.9% (previously 13.5%) and Shinyanga at 7.6% (previously 6.5%). Zanzibar had the lowest prevalence rate at 0.6%. Age-wise, the highest prevalence was among the 35-39 age group (10%).

The survey also collected information on knowledge of HIV, attitudes and behavourial aspects. Over 98% of respondants had heard about HIV/AIDS. 68.6% of women and 76.3% of men knew that condoms can reduce the risk of contracting HIV, while 82% and 86.6% knew that limiting sex to one uninfected partner who has no other partners would reduce the risk. 85% and 89% where aware that abstaining from sexual intercourse is another recognized prevention method.

With regard to Malaria, 56% of the households covered in the study owned some type of mosquito net (increased from 46% observed in the 2004-05 survey). 37% of children under age five years and 36% of pregnant women slept under a mosquito net. Children and pregnant women in urban areas were found to be twice as likely to use mosquito nets than their rural counterparts.

The overall prevalence of malaria in young children in Tanzania was 18%. In rural areas, 20% of children carried the malaria parasite compared to 7% in urban areas. Kagera had the highest prevalence of malaria among young children (42%) while Arusha had the lowest with less than 1%.

The statement ended “To conclude, these results should be taken as a challenge in the nation’s effort to reduce the incidences of new HIV infections and eradication of malaria among children. We all have to work together towards achieving the desired levels so that we save lives of our people especially children under age five years.”