The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)
Empowering Young Women
With her four daughters aged 17 to 20 and cousin 26 in tow Mama Mussa approached the T-MARC booth at the Sabasaba fair requesting training for the young women on proper condom use. “I live in Manzese” Mama Mussa said, the notorious “Uwanjawafisi’ (hyena’s den) area where the trade in illicit alcohol, drugs and sex are all too common. "The realities of life in this neighborhood drove my decision to bring my daughters here" she said. “I want my girls to be protected. But I cannot talk to them directly about condoms and related sexual issues at home. That is why I brought them here to receive first hand and professional information on these matters.”
A major challenge facing the ongoing efforts to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS in Tanzania is that of attitude change. Sex remains a taboo subject and this is often cited as one of the factors driving high rates of new infections and unplanned pregnancies among the youth. Some studies have also shown that the rate of new infections of HIV in Tanzanian women is currently highest among young girls under 19 years old. Other studies indicate that up to half of all Tanzanian girls age 19 or below are either pregnant or are already mothers. That is why Mama Mussa's courage in seeking reproductive health education for her daughters pointed to a definite parental change in behavior towards matters of youth sexuality.
This year T-MARC reached over 16,000 people with targeted individual or small group HIV prevention interventions. In a study conducted in 2011, it was found that of women at higher risk who were reached up to 3 times, that 75% reported trying the female condom and of these two thirds continued to use them. During the training sessions male and female condoms are given out, demonstrations on their use are given using anatomical models and audience participation, discussions and role plays on condom negotiation are held followed by question and answer sessions.
“Today I have learnt how to protect myself from HIV and unplanned pregnancy. I am not sure if any of my friends have received this kind of information. I am confident to assist them with ample information in case they need it,’ Tulizo (20) said after the training session.
“I would like to thank my mother for taking an initiative to provide us with this important information. Although I am not engaging in sexual activity, what I have learnt here will serve me in good stead in the future” Tulizo’s younger sister Zainabu said.
T-MARC Tanzania is a non-profit Tanzanian organization and is the local partner implementing the Tanzania Social Marketing Program (TSMP). TSMP is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)."
On her part, Mama Mussa expressed satisfaction at the quality of health education provided by T-MARC when she said “…today I have hope."