- A sharp drop of Tanzania's HIV/AIDS infection rate from 7.0% in 2003 to 5.8% in 2007 means the East African country's battle against the global pandemic is paying dividends.
The Tanzanian Prime Minister, Mizengo Pinda, who announced the good news in the capital Dar es Salam, said based on official statistics the drop in the infection rate is "constant and regular" for both men [from 7.0% in 2003 to 4.7% in 2007] and women [from 8.0% in 2003 to 6.8% in 2007].
The figures - confirmed by the National Bureau of Statistics, the office of the Zanzibar Chief Statistician, the Tanzania Commission for AIDS and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare - were made public after a study on malaria and HIV/AIDS indicators in 2007/08.
The autonomous authority of Zanzibar has achieved greater success by dropping infection rate to almost 1% over the years.
Of Tanzania's 40 million inhabitants, 4.1 million people are estimated to be carrying the HIV/AIDS. But the government launched anti-HIV/AIDS sensitization campaign last year to create awareness as well as encourage people to go for voluntary testing. Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete led close to four million Tanzanians across the country to take part in a year-long voluntary blood screening campaign.
After the campaign, at least 194,149 people were tested positive for the HIV virus, Tanzania's National AIDS Control Program confirmed.
During the campaign, the government used 1,000-plus existing voluntary counseling and testing centers to improvise services to about 2,400 testing sites.
Until it introduced the distribution of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in public sector in October 2005, only about 1, 500 patients - all in the private sector - were being treated with ART in Tanzania.
Under the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, Tanzania received about 60% of the value of all antiretroviral drugs in 2005, 2006, and 2007. Today more than 100,000 patients have got access to ART.
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