Background:Only 45 per cent of men living with HIV know their HIV status in Tanzania, as against 56 per cent of women living with HIV. The Prime Minister, involving all stakeholders, launched a national HIV Test and Treat campaign on 19 June 2018. Coming together as one UN, the ILO expanded its ongoing VCT@WORK Initiative in collaboration with its partners - the Ministry of labour, Association of Tanzanian Employers and Trade Union Congress of Tanzania.
Salient features of the strategy:The workplace was prioritized for interventions, given its potential to reach men. Based on an assessment and a national consultation, a National Action Plan (2018-2020) was developed with a view to accelerating and expanding HIV testing and treatment services amongst men.
The ILO’s advocacy and communication efforts was based on the ILO report - The impact of HIV and AIDS on the world of work: Global Estimates – that covered Tanzania as well. The report shows that the greatest incidence of mortality due to AIDS among workers is when they are in their late 30s and most productive. In Tanzania around 1.2 million workers were living with HIV in 2015. The VCT@WORK Initiative was focused on the male dominated economic sectors such as fisheries, agriculture and construction.
The ILO jointly with UNAIDS, UNFPA and WHO supported the constituents and the national AIDS commission to undertake an assessment on the bottlenecks towards male engagement. The assessment informed the national stakeholders and a National Action Plan (2018-2020) was developed to accelerate and expand the HIV testing and treatment services for men.
The ILO led a media campaign with messages focusing around “Know your Status” and mobilized workers through employers’ and workers’ organizations.
The Dodoma City Council and the President’s Office Public Service Management and Tanzania AIDS Commission led the mobilisation of public service employees within 24 ministries. A multi-disease testing approach was adopted to destigmatize the HIV testing.
- A National Accelerated Action Plan on HIV Testing Services was developed.
- About 265,785 (127,886 males and 137,899 Females) were tested from the workplaces.
- Communication materials were developed and disseminated for demand creation.
- The leadership of the Prime Minister played a key role in mobilizing different ministries and partners. The Prime Minister himself took the test and accepted to be a male champion.
- Adoption of multi disease testing helped in demystifying HIV. The initiative was better received by workers as they also got tested for non-communicable diseases.
- The test and treat campaign is being rolled out in 26 regions of Tanzania and lead by the regional commissioners while in the Ministries lead by the Permanent Secretaries and HIV Focal points.
- The ILO is planning to scale up the programme in other sectors.