THE HIV positivity rate in Kagera Region has declined from 6.1 per cent recorded in 2014 to 1.2 per cent by September, this year, the HIV/AIDS Regional Co-coordinator, Dr Jonas Kessy, has disclosed. Dr Kessy told the ‘Daily News’ in an exclusive interview that the number of AIDS-linked deaths had also dropped from 4,500 recorded in 2010 to 1,200 deaths this year.
He explained that while the HIV positivity rate during 2014 stood at 6.1 per cent, it dropped to 4.0 per cent during 2015; 2.5 per cent (2016); 1.6 per cent (2017) down to 1.2 per cent this year.
“The achievement was due to improved testing and antiretroviral treatment (ART) enrollment with improved care and treatment, resulting in many clients being virally suppressed; hence few deaths occur,” he said.
Dr Kessy, however, appealed to Tanzanians not to relax in the fight against HIV/AIDS because the disease was still there silently killing millions of people worldwide.
About 37 million people globally are living with HIV out of whom 19 million are in Eastern and Southern African regions.
“As we meet today, millions of people are dying every day due to HIV/AIDS. Tanzanians should not relax in the fight against HIV/AIDS. More efforts are still needed to ensure that the disease is totally controlled by 2030,” he said.
Scaling-up access to antiretroviral treatment has helped Tanzania minimise the impact of the epidemic. As a result, between 2010 and 2015, the number of new infections declined by more than 20 per cent and the number of people dying from an AIDS-related illness halved.
In 2015, about 36.7 million people were living with HIV and it resulted in 1.1 million deaths. In 2016, 1.4 million people were living with HIV in Tanzania. This equates to an estimated HIV prevalence of 4.7 per cent. In the same year, 55,000 people were newly infected with HIV, and 33,000 people died from an AIDS-related illness. Most of those infected live in Sub-Sahara Africa. Between its discovery and 2014, AIDS has caused an estimated 39 million deaths worldwide.
UNAIDS 2015 report revealed that Tanzania had succeeded to reduce new HIV/AIDS infections among adults from 72,000 cases during 2013, 69,000 cases during 2014 down to 48,000 cases during 2015. Also, new infections among children dropped from 67,000 cases during 2010 to 56,000 cases during 2015. The report also indicated that about 1.4 million Tanzanians were living with HIV while those under Anti Retrovials (ARVs) were about 800,000.