HIV prevalence in Kagera Region has increased from 3.4 per cent during 2013 to 4.8 per cent by November, last year, the Kagera Regional Community Development Officer, Mr Issa Mrimi, has disclosed. He noted that from December, last year, HIV prevalence has been increasing at 1.4 percent. He elaborated that Bukoba Municipality was on top of the list with 10.5 per cent HIV prevalence followed by Muleba District and Misenyi with 8.5 per cent, while Ngara District had lowest rate at 2.6 per cent.
He said that HIV infection rate was quite alarming calling for concerted efforts to stop further spread of the disease. “The region had succeeded to reduce HIV infections from 19 per cent during 2010 to 3.4 per cent during 2013. “Unfortunately, the rate of HIV infection sharply increased to 4.8 per cent last year. We need more effort to control the pandemic,” he said.
According to Mr Mrimi, the sudden re-surfacing of HIV infections could be attributed to the laxity by people in taking precautions by indulging in unprotected sex, increased use of drugs by youth and excessive drinking habits. “People should take more precaution. The killer disease is back, silently killing millions of people. Those in wedlock should be faithful to each other. Youth should practise total abstinence.
People should also be sensitised to use condoms and return to God. “Patients using ARVs must ensure that they complete the described dose,” he said. He said a recent study revealed that the HIV prevalence was quite alarming, with some areas recording over 25 per cent. “Urgent intervention was needed to contain the spread of HIV/Aids. It has also come to light that some of the widows who lost their husbands to the disease have relocated to villages in the islands on Lake Victoria where the study indicates that most people do not practise safe sex.
This has adversely affected efforts to control the spread of the disease,” he said. He noted that between April, last year to April, this year over 6,000 people voluntarily tested their health out of whom 362 (5.2 per cent) were found to be HIV positive. The Director for Monitoring and Evaluation under Tanzania Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS), Dr Jerome Kamwela, told this paper in an interview that the increase could be attributed to success recorded in enabling People Living with HIV (PLWH) to live longer.
“More People Living with HIV (PLWH) were adhering to comprehensive antiretroviral therapy (ART), HIV counselling and testing,” he said. He urged Kagera residents to take more precautions in HIV mainstreaming and male circumcision.
He noted that the rate of male circumcision in Kagera Region stood at 39 per cent compared to Lindi, Tanga, Mtwara, Pemba, Unguja and Dar es Salaam regions which had recorded 99 per cent, respectively. Other regions with per cent in brackets include Coast Region (98), Kilimanjaro (97), Geita (95), Manyara (92), Arusha (91), Mara (88), Singida (88) and Morogoro (88). Regions with a low rate of male circumcision include Tabora (56), Njombe (49), Katavi (44), Iringa (41), Kagera (39) and Shinyanga (32).