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TANZANIA: 44,000 to receive ARVs by end of 2005

Photo: UN DPI
Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa
DAR ES SALAAM, 26 September 2005 (PlusNews) - The government of Tanzania plans to have at least 44,000 people infected with HIV/AIDS on antiretroviral treatment (ARVs) by the end of 2005, President Benjamin Mkapa said on Sunday.

This figure, he said, represented some 10 percent of the actual number of those in need of ARVs.

Speaking at the general meeting of Churches United Against HIV and AIDS in Southern and Eastern Africa in Dar es Salaam, Mkapa however warned that easy access to treatment and drugs should not encourage a jaded mentality towards sex and AIDS.

He urged HIV-positive clerics and church workers to openly declare their health status to reduce stigmatisation of those infected.

"One cause of the prevalence and increase of HIV infection is the social stigma, which inhibits those who might want to come out and who, by the way of cruel justice, might be driven to reckless promiscuity," he said.

He said that for anti-HIV/AIDS campaign to succeed countrywide, the government, civil society, churches and other groups needed to make concerted efforts in order to check the spread of the disease, which currently affects an estimated 7 percent, or two million of Tanzania's adult population. The country has a population of 36.7 million.

"Those suffering from AIDS do not lose their humanity and the right to be loved simply because of their being infected," Mkapa said. "Even when they may be infected through 'sin', they deserve to be loved and to be cared for by their families, communities and society."

He added: "Churches can spread this message convincingly because of their theological understanding. My plea to you is: don't allow compassion fatigue to set in."

He praised churches for setting up institutions that provide care for the infected.

"I'm deeply gratified that churches are in the very forefront in the provision of institutional care," he added. "Most orphanages are built and run by them."

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