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Tanzania bans centers offering HIV services for key populations

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By Philippine News Agency

Photo courtesy of Google Maps. (Manila Bulletin)

Photo courtesy of Google Maps. (Manila Bulletin)

Tanzania on Thursday, February 16 banned drop-in centers, which were used to provide HIV/Aids services to key populations for the reason that the vice were promoting homosexuality.

Tanzania’s minister for Health, Community Development, Elderly, Gender and Children, Ummy Mwalimu said in a statement that the drop-in centers were established in the country to provide HIV services for key populations, which includes sex workers, people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men, and transgender people.

“But, our studies show that those centers were being used to encourage homosexuality, something which is against our culture,” the minister said, noting that instead services which were being offered in those centers will be available in all public health facilities.

She said the decision had come after the report from the ministry’s task force, which shows that some of the health drop-in centers were being used to promote homosexuality, which was against the law.

She said according to the regulation, the centers were supposed to provide HIV testing and counseling services as well as provide ARVs to key populations and not otherwise.

The minister further said the government in collaboration with other stakeholders will assure that all their staffs are well trained on how to handle issues related to key populations.

Mwalimu said any interested partners should provide funds in any public health centers to build capacity to community workers to deliver similar service.

She however said that for the case of outreach services, the government was planning to train its health staffs and community health workers to provide similar health services in rural areas.

The minister explained the government will further provide other health services to key populations such as bio-medical interventions, behavior interventions and structural and income generation interventions.

Neema Rusibemalila, Director of Preventive Services in the Ministry of Health cited Dar es salaam, Dodoma and Tanga as the leading regions with large number of people who are homosexual, the situation which exposes them to high risk of being affected with HIV/Aids.

She also said that Dar es Salaam and Mwanza were the leading regions for women who are sex workers.

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