Why the US Fight Against HIV in Tanzania Matters

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DODOMA, Tanzania — The United States plays a powerful role in addressing the dominance of HIV and AIDS globally, with Tanzania serving as a prime example. The news site allAfrica wrote a piece on U.S assistance to address HIV in Tanzania, and the subsequent result of the establishment of a new clinic that offers methadone.

The article talked about a variety of other problems addressed, tested and/or treated by the clinic, including cervical cancer, substance abuse and sexually transmitted diseases. allAfrica highlighted that the clinic is “a gift to Tanzanians from Americans” and “financially supported by the U.S. Department of Defense-Walter Reed Program (WRP)/President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).”

Furthermore, the CDC provided help in the technical domain for this project to confront HIV in Tanzania.

amfAR—The Foundation for AIDS Research—has its own database to address the connection between drug usage and the proliferation of HIV, although it works domestically rather than on a global scale. The organization’s work focuses more on research than on direct delivery of services—though Deputy Director of Public Policy Brian Honermann points out that they are essentially two sides of the same coin when addressing HIV.

In the wake of potential budget cuts from the United States for funding to HIV initiatives, amfAR released a report on what this could look like for Fiscal Year 2017, working with suggested decreases of $242 million for PEPFAR.

Some of the impacts include over 250,000 people dealing with interruptions in treatment, almost 40,000 deaths related to AIDS and over 18,000 contractions of HIV as a result of sex. However, Honermann is unsure that these reductions will occur and leans toward the likelihood that they will not. He discussed global progress since over half of HIV-infected people receive treatment.

“But that’s nowhere near where we need to be which is… at 90 percent of people living with HIV‚” Honermann said, “Or any one percent of people living with HIV being on treatment and 90 percent of those with a viral suppression… in order to achieve the prevention targets that are associated with the 90-90-90 strategy.”

He described general support for “continued, full funding of the AIDS response globally,” pointing out specific entities like PEPFAR and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

AVERT statistics show that drug injection makes individuals 28 times more likely to contract HIV than the overall populace. It also highlights that negative perceptions and punitive measures make opportunities to acquire essential treatment, for example, difficult for this demographic. In addition, needle-exchanging practices and poverty among other factors are involved in the correlation between drug usage and HIV.

The organization noted a study published in 2008 that found “an average treatment retention of 70 percent across Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Oceania” for opioid substitution therapy—a similar number to the results of Tanzania’s newest clinic.

Regardless of the prejudice surrounding individuals who inject heroin—as well as those who live with HIV—financing solutions like these are vital. Fighting HIV in Tanzania is a great example of the important work global alliances can accomplish.

Maleeha Syed

Photo: Flickr

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Maleeha Syed

Maleeha lives in San Antonio, Texas. Her academic interests include Journalism, human rights and social justice, business and public policy. Maleeha has also been an active officer for an Amnesty International chapter for the past two years. She hopes this will prepare her for a future in reporting on the stories she is fascinated by, which deal with humanitarian struggles and how the political sphere either helps or hinders people.

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