AIDS/HIV | News | Tanzania | Zanzibar

Cell Phones Take Prominent Role in AIDS Prevention in Tanzania

An experimental program in Tanzania communicates to gay men through cell phone texts in an effort to provide private-conveyed information to help stem HIV and AIDS in the largely homophobic and discriminatory nation:

Tanzania "Joyce Nyoni --the project coordinator and a sociology lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam -- said the 'safe sex text test' would start by next monthand run for 20 months. 'We hope to motivate the participants and equip them with scientific knowledge and skills on how to protect themselves and their partners from HIV/Aids. So far I have informally identified 10 'seed' candidates who will help to recruit others. We hope to connect up to 300 homosexual men, who will be receiving at least three messages a week each on an anonymous basis,' Nyoni said...Nyoni said she will write the safe-sex messages in consultation with HIV counsellors and will use computer software to monitor message delivery. Group members will be allocated identity codes to remain anonymous because homosexuals face discrimination in Tanzania. For the same reason, the project's outcomes will be measured against questionnaires rather than blood tests, Nyoni said."

Nyoni says more than a quarter of Tanzanians use cell phones regularly.

Mail & Guardian adds: "
According to figures released by the Tanzania Commission for Aids, about six of every 100 citizens between the ages of 15 and 49 are infected with HIV/Aids. Because of the stigma, it is not known how the country's homosexual population is affected, although Ananilea Nkya from the commission said the country's epidemic is predominantly heterosexual and affects more women than men."

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  1. Three messages a week? Scientific advice on preventing HIV takes 20 words, tops. It could be done in fewer if necessary.

    Anonymous "recruitment" is a nice idea but seems doomed to, well, not much. I'm not knocking any effort to reduce HIV in Africa, but anyone out enough to do this (few, I'm guessing) won't require three lessons a week in HIV prevention. I guess it's better than nothing, but still.

    Posted by: Geronimo | Apr 15, 2009 9:54:37 AM

  2. Well am not sure how this will work. Will those gay men like me living in Tanzania want to be exposed and have myself known to some doctors or analysts whom I don't even know? What if a situation like Uganda arises and we all gay men are targeted for a witch hunt and tracked down? gives me the shudders for those who will take a risk in exposing themselves. I hope all those gay men in Tanzania know by now that safer sex is the only way and rule to live by.

    Posted by: Shaffin | Apr 15, 2009 3:57:18 PM

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