Although Tanzania’s HIV prevalence in the general population has gone down from 7% in 2004 to 5.1% in 2012, unfortunately, the achievements made in the general population have not translated into progress for all.
Key and vulnerable populations ( sex workers, men who have sex with men, and adolescent girls and young women aged 15-24) have not benefited from the national progress. Key and vulnerable populations have been disproportionally affected by HIV and are typically underserved by HIV and family planning programs targeting the general population.
In hotspots across the country, HIV incidence in this group remains unacceptably high. For instance, in Dar es salaam, Tanzania business capital and most populous region, HIV prevalence is about 38% among female sex workers, and 30% among men who have sex with men in Dar es Salaam.
That is where Sauti, a five-year United States Agency for International Development (USAID) health project working in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare comes in. Sauti’s goal is to ensure that all key and vulnerable populations (KVPs) in program communities participate in a core package of tailored, client-centered combination HIV prevention, and family planning services, with strong and linkages to care, treatment and other services. The project is implemented by Jhpiego, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University, in partnership with EngenderHealth, Pact, and NIMR/Mwanza,
“Working in the community and linking beneficiaries to key population-friendly health facilities, Sauti aims to improve KVP access to quality HIV prevention, treatment and care services and family planning services,” explains the program’s Chief of Party, Hally Mahler.
“Sauti is working with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to operationalize the new National Guidelines for Comprehensive Package of HIV Interventions for Key Population,” she added.
Sauti, which begun in February 2015 is implemented within selected communities in five priority regions (Dar es Salaam, Iringa, Njombe, Mbeya and Shinyanga) and expanding to Morogoro, Lindi, Dodoma, Tabora, Arusha and Kilimanjaro this coming year.