World AIDS Day 2020: Success Stories from Tanzania

This #WorldAIDSDay2020 we want you to meet Khadija Butemi, a twenty-one-year small-scale farmer living near Lake Victoria in Tanzania.  She found herself becoming a Voluntary Medical Male circumcision (VMMC) advocate after hearing a public service announcement about VMMC while doing her daily chores.  She learned that VMMC is a key HIV prevention intervention which offers a 60% protection against heterosexual HIV acquisition among men. Khadija explained the facts and benefits to her husband, and he agreed to have the procedure. This made him one of more than 25 million boys and men to receive President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) funded VMMC services since 2004.

#PEPFARsavesLives

#WorldAIDSDay2020

Learn more about how Khadija and her husband work together to advocate for VMMC in their community: https://blogs.cdc.gov/global/2020/01/22/ending-the-hiv-aids-epidemic-community-by-community/

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This #WorldAIDSDay2020, meet Tatu, an adolescent girl from Tanzania who dropped out of school before receiving any secondary education. She secretly engaged in transactional sex to support herself and her family until becoming a part of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) DREAMS program. The Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS Free, Mentored, and Safe Initiative (DREAMS) uses evidence-based interventions to address HIV risk among adolescent girls who are disproportionately impacted by HIV both in Tanzania and globally.  Across Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, five in six new HIV infections among adolescents aged 15–19 years are among girls.  Thanks to DREAMS, Tatu was equipped with knowledge and skills to develop a lucrative business focused on generating income, saving, and further investing that capital into the business.  She now has a successful sardine selling business that allows her to contribute to her parents’ household needs and support her own life.

#WorldAIDSDay2020

#PEPFARsaveslives

Read more about CDC’s work to keep AGYW HIV-free that allows them to do what they do best: just be girls. https://blogs.cdc.gov/global/2020/01/22/ending-the-hiv-aids-epidemic-community-by-community/

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This #WorldAIDSDay2020, meet Happiness, a 50-year-old woman from Kagera region who was struggling with poverty while raising her one-year old grandchild when she was diagnosed with HIV.  Although her health improved dramatically when she started antiretroviral treatment, the stigma surrounding her status was too much to bear, and she decided never to disclose that she was living with HIV.

Her feelings changed after she and her grandchild were enrolled in Kizazi Kipya, a program supported by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through USAID’s implementing partner, Pact. Kikazi Kipya works to transform the lives of vulnerable Tanzanian children and their caregivers, especially those affected by HIV. After a volunteer community case worker visited Happiness, she enrolled in a local group that helps women save money, access credit, start small businesses to lift themselves and each other out of poverty.

Happiness soon discovered that other women in her group were also living with HIV. They shared their status openly were accepted members, and lived full lives. Slowly, Happiness gained the confidence she needed to be open about her own status. Today, Happiness’s life has changed in many ways. She is raising goats and saving money to buy a house.  Her health is strong and she has become an advocate for others who are living with HIV.

#WorldAIDSDay2020

#PEPFARsaveslives

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On #WorldAIDSDay2020, meet Regina, a forty-five year old housewife and mother of five whose life was saved by cervical cancer screening and treatment services supported by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through Walter Reed Army Institute of Research’s partner HJFMRI.  Three years ago, after hearing a public service announcement about cervical cancer screening, Regina visited Vwawa Hospital in Songwe, where her screening turned up nothing of concern. She was advised to return in a few years for follow-up.

In September of 2020, she heard another public service announcement and was reminded of the need to return.  Unfortunately, this time lesions were identified. However, she was able to get same-day cryotherapy, and was treated on the spot.  Regina reported back on her experience saying, “I am happy now that I do not have any worries about getting cervical cancer… I advise all women to visit health facilities and get cervical cancer screening free of charge.  The health care providers are very supportive, but most importantly, I have learned that early detection saves lives.”

In Tanzania, 51 out of every 100,000 women die due to cervical cancer each year.  Women living with HIV are at a higher risk of getting the disease and are more likely to progress to severe disease and death.  Luckily, when lesions are identified early – such as Regina’s case – immediate treatment can prevent progression to cervical cancer.

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