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To make HIV services available to more Tanzanians, we go where the clients go.
“I am waiting for my younger brother to take me home,” Jagad Mabula tells me.
He has just received an HIV test and circumcision services at Tinde Health Centre in Tanzania’s Shinyanga Region and is now sitting on a bench as he waits.
Jagad, 24, spent about three hours riding a bicycle from Mwamanyuda village—where he lives with his wife and two children—to this facility to undergo voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC). The procedure will reduce his risk of acquiring HIV through heterosexual intercourse by about 60%. It’s a busy Saturday, and the national HIV “Test and Treat” campaign is being launched here in Shinyanga region.
“My brother told me that male circumcision services would be available here,” Jagad says. “He heard the announcement through the public-address system and from village leaders. Despite the distance, I had to come, because I missed the previous circumcision campaigns that happened nearby."
IntraHealth International’s ToharaPlus team installed tents to provide information on VMMC services at the Test and Treat campaign grounds. Those who wished to be circumcised were referred to nearby Tinde Health Centre. The launch is among a series of national events initiated by Tanzania’s Prime Minister to help more men get tested for HIV and to immediately link those who need them to care and treatment services, where they can start using antiretroviral medication.
Jagad is not worried about the rough road home, or the scorching sun, or the minor surgery he just underwent. After such a long wait for the procedure, he is excited and ready to spread the word.
“I’m so happy for this service,” he says. “From now on, I will be an ambassador for voluntary medical male circumcision in my community by telling them all the benefits as the service providers explained them to me.”
We’ve joined the government in promoting HIV Test and Treat campaigns in Mwanza, Shinyanga, and Simiyu regions.
Jagad is just one among many men and boys who have been circumcised during the national HIV Test and Treat campaign, also known as Furaha yangu—literally, “my happiness”. IntraHealth capitalizes on national events like this by bringing VMMC services right to the participants and creating easy access for clients who otherwise could not visit a health facility for noncritical conditions.
We’ve joined the government’s effort to roll out and promote HIV Test and Treat campaigns in Mwanza, Shinyanga, and Simiyu regions, bringing our medical tents and services to the campaign grounds. As part of this effort, since July, 21, 2018, 423 clients have been tested for HIV and provided with VMMC services. Of these, 149 (35%) were adults over 20 years old, the priority age group for the VMMC program. Impact models show that VMMC has a greater impact on men in this age range than on younger groups.
Since 2010, more than 1 million clients have received VMMC services through IntraHealth-supported sites and outreach campaigns.
IntraHealth leads the ToharaPlus project with funding from the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). ToharaPlus focuses on HIV prevention by increasing the availability of voluntary medical male circumcision in Tanzania’s Lake Zone regions of Shinyanga, Geita, Mwanza, Mara, and Simiyu. IntraHealth collaborates with the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children (MoHCDEGC); the HIV Control Unit (NACP); the President’s Office - Regional Administration and Local Government (PORALG); and regional and district health committees to scale up high-quality VMMC services.