Tanzania: Call to Amend HIV/Aids (Prevention and Control), Act of 2008

THE government has been asked to make amendment of the HIV/AIDS (Prevention and Control), Act of 2008 on its section 15(2), so that it can allow children at the age of 6-14 years to go for HIV testing without first seeking their guardians and parents' consent.

The request was made by the Mwanza Youth and Children Network (MYCN), Chairman, Mr Shaban Ramadhan yesterday when he was speaking to reporters, where he explained the effects on legislation's section.

According to Mr Ramadhan, the current set up of the law serves as a stumbling block in the war against HIV/ Aids since children aged between 6 and 14 years must first get permission from their parents or guardians if they want to undergo HIV/ Aids testing.

"We call for the amendment of the Act because of varFrom 203030303030ious experiences we get.

For example, on World Aids Day, a significant number of teenagers or children have been turning up for HIV testing without a written or oral consent from their parents or guardians," he explained.

Mr Ramadhan said due to the change in lifestyle, the child's genetic makeup is not as good as it used to be in the beginning, and it is very difficult for parents/ guardians to give their children permission to go for HIV testing while some of the parents are afraid to go for HIV testing.

He said many Tanzanian families do not have a culture of talking openly to their children, especially girls about the effects of HIV, a situation which indicates that more education is still needed in the community.

He said the number of teenagers and children testing HIV/AIDS is lower in the country compared to the actual number of those groups, where most data suggests that HIV testing groups in the country are aged between 15-17, 15-24 and 15-49 "It is very difficult to get data of children aged 10-14 who have undergone HIV testing in our country," he said.

He said he recognizes the efforts taken by the government in changing the age of voluntary HIV testing for children under 18, but he advised the child's voluntary age should be 12 years old.

He said if a child will go for HIV testing at the age of 12 without his parent's consent, the government will accelerate the implementation of 90-90-90 world ambitious target of ending AIDS epidemic, which is currently 52.2 percent in Tanzania according to Tanzania HIV Impact Survey (THIS) of 2016-17.

"If children at the age of 12 will be allowed to go for HIV testing, the government will get the correct and accurate data (information) of the number of children who are infected and enable them to begin treatment early," he said, and requested the government to make an amendment of the Act so that it can enable children to go for HIV testing at the age of 12 freely without their parents' consent.

He added that the move will allow children to know their health status early, claiming that some children start having sex at the age of 12 and others under that age.

"12 percent of girls and 13 percent of boys are involved in sexual acts before the age of 15," he said.

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