Tanzania: Initiative On to Lower HIV Testing Age to 15

MINISTRY of Health, Community Development, Gender, the Elderly and Children will submit a bill for amendment of law to change statutory age of consent for independently consenting to HIV/AIDS testing and counseling from 18 to 15 years, to control the spread of the epidemic.

Speaking at the launch of the Kilimanjaro Challenge 2019 in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the Deputy Minister Dr Faustine Ndugulile, said that the new plans come after recent studies. The studies by Tanzania Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS) found that over 80 per cent of new HIV infections were to young people aged 15 to 24 years.

"The government has began to take action. The first step is to lower the statutory age of consent for HIV and AIDS services since young people start to have sex at an early age.

Figures show that between the age of 15 and 19, twenty seven percent of girls are pregnant or have children. In this case of infection, we have decided to submit a bill to parliament for the statutory age to be to 15 years. Now it can allow the young people to access the service, because now one has to get the parent or guardian's consent," he noted.

The Kilimanjaro Challenge aims to raise awareness on the HIV and AIDS pandemic, provide financial support to HIV and AIDS initiative and build national team spirit in this noble fight that's also giving local climbers opportunity to climb Mt Kilimanjaro. In addition, he said the ministry would craft a plan to allow people to test themselves to provide self-testing for HIV as research shows many men do not like to get tested or go to hospital.

"Like women who test themselves for pregnancy; now men will be able to self-test at their homes and I believe this will give them encouragement," he said. In addition, the Executive Director of TACAIDs, Dr Leonard Maboko, said the proposed bill would help young people to access AIDS services quickly without the consent of the parent or guardian as it is now.

In addition, he said the reasons for young people to get more infections are from childhood to adolescence. "They have not been well educated so it is easy for him/her to make decisions that are not well informed. But also young women want to get different things easily.

"That is why we have projects that touch the poor households by helping them get entrepreneurial education in three regions," he said. The AngloGold Ashanti, GGM Vice President Sustainability, Mr Simon Shayo, said this year, the campaign to contribute to the HIV& AIDS is targeting to raise 2.0bn/- .

However, he explained that so far, they have already collected more than 1.5bn/-, equivalent to 67 per cent of the target for this year's campaign which is now 18 years since its inception. He explained that since its inception, Kilimanjaro Challenge has raised over 13 bn/- that has benefited the organisation and 50 different institutions dealing with HIV&AIDS.

He said since the campaign was launched, more than 800 people have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, and this year they expect more than 80 people. In addition, the Director of Child Care - Geita, Sr Adalbera Mukure, noted that since the centre was launched in 2006 by GGM, it has improved the lives of different children.

She said the centre has educated 18 children of kindergarten, primary schools, 70, secondary 29, Form five and six 8, two university, one teacher, two employed in the private sector and two have not yet been employed.

"We are asking for your contributions to facilitate the construction of English medium school to enable children to read and even out-of-school children to study and the funds available to operate the facility," she added.

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