ANGAZA - HIV voluntary counseling and testing services
In the last 20 years, HIV/AIDS has spread rapidly across Tanzania, lowering life expectancy, harming the economy, and leaving one in ten Tanzanian children orphaned.
While acknowledged as a national disaster, less than 10% of the country’s late teen and adult population are aware of their HIV status, rendering it impossible to contain the disease and difficult to care for those who have been already infected.
For many Tanzanians, HIV/AIDS testing remains stigmatized. Until recently, testing was carried out with little regard to confidentiality and was followed up with ineffective and inappropriate counseling.
Girls and young women are often the most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and are three times more likely to be HIV positive than their male counterparts. This is partly the result of cultural traditions, which make it difficult for females to negotiate safe sex and refuse the advances of older men.
Other cultural norms provide obstacles to the fight against HIV/AIDS. For example, married couples often fail to discuss sex despite the fact that half of HIV infections occur within marriage. Parents rarely talk to their children about their sexuality. Lack of openness increases ignorance and creates stigma and embarrassment around discovering one’s HIV status.
Objectives of the project
The Angaza project, meaning "shed light" in Kiswahili, aims to remove the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS and, therefore, reduce the spread of the disease by:
- Encouraging every Tanzanian to know their HIV status
- Increasing access to quality testing and counseling services
- Providing community care support for those with HIV/AIDS
- Using rapid HIV tests which are accurate, easy to perform, low cost, and require minimal laboratory equipment
- Training voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) counselors
- Increasing social marketing campaigns to improve awareness of testing sites
- Dispel myths and stigma surrounding the disease
- Over half a million people have been tested at voluntary counseling and testing sites.
- USAID has funded the construction of a modern training center at AMREF with computers, publications on HIV/AIDS, counseling, and clinical research available.
- Over 90 counselors have been trained.
- Over 200 people have been trained to educate and sensitize their own communities.
- A high profile, mass media campaign has increased awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and encouraged people to go for testing to become aware of their HIV status.
- Post-test clubs have been set up to support those who have tested positive and to discuss HIV/AIDS-related information.
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