School HIV and AIDS Intervention (2016 – 2019) is a three-year project facilitated by our partner Tanzania Women Research Foundation (TAWREF), it increases the knowledge of HIV prevention amongst teachers, children and parents. With the support of local governments and health facilities, the project provides testing and early access to care and treatment in twelve schools in Moshi district of Kilimanjaro region, northern Tanzania. The aim of this project is to reach 720 children along with 36 teachers, 1,000 parents and 36 local governmental leaders in Kilimanjaro region.
Between 2016 and 2018, we established seven youth-led AIDS-free generation clubs, ten school information centres and conducted quarterly learning-based participatory monitoring and evaluation sessions to encourage project schools to take responsibility for their pupils in terms of HIV prevention, care and treatment. In 2016, 55 out of 442 of children surveyed reported to be sexually active before they were 14-years-old. In 2018, this number decreased to just 10 out of 442 children, demonstrating how the project activities had positively influenced their decision-making in relation to their sexual reproductive health. Read more about our School HIV and AIDS Intervention project here
In 2019 (year 3), the project will provide 36 teachers, 720 children, up to 2,400 parents and 60 local leaders with a deeper understanding of what drives positive behaviour change. It will focus on influencing children. positive behavioural change to improve their decision-making in relation to their sexual reproductive health. It will also increase parents’ sense of responsibility towards their children, keeping them safe from exposure to risk of HIV infection and facilitating their children’s behaviour change initiatives. There will also be indirect beneficiaries who will be reached: 7,200 pupils, 180 teachers (15 per school) and extended family members (up to 10 per peer educator).
An estimated 1,500,000 people are living with HIV in Tanzania; 120,000 are aged 0 to 14 years and in 2017, 65,000 new infections were reported. HIV remains one of the leading causes of death in Tanzania – in 2017, the United Nations revealed how 6,000 children aged 0 to 15 years died that year from an AIDS-related illness. A 2013 study demonstrated how 20% of children living in rural Tanzania contracted HIV from their mothers, either during pregnancy, labour or through breastfeeding.
The inadequate integration of sexual reproductive health education into primary schools is another contributor to the marked recent rise in HIV infections. The same 2013 study revealed how 63% of children aged between 11 and 14 years were sexually active. Poor teacher training means that education programmes for health in primary schools are ineffective in combating HIV transmission in rural Tanzania. There is a lack of life skills training and sexual reproductive health discussions in school, and given how sex remains a cultural taboo in Tanzania, many children cannot discuss their sexual relations or concerns at home either. Providing quality SRH education is a key factor in decreasing HIV transmission and it is a step forward in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of an AIDS-Free Generation by 2030.
Meet Anna, HIV Peer Educator at Mandela Primary School