EXECUTIVE Director of the Zanzibar AIDS Commission (ZAC) Dr Ahmed Mohammed Khatib has said that strategies are still needed to reduce the spread of HIV in Zanzibar among special group – sex-workers and drug users.
He said although HIV prevalence in Zanzibar is low, the special groups have high rates of infection, a greater risk of spreading to other people.
“We need collaboration. People and media have a greater role to play,” Dr Khatib said at a meeting with reporters here to sensitize and encourage the media to have work plans that will help stop the HIV spread.
He said the prevalence rate for these groups was higher than for the general population by more than five per cent, while for the general population the rate of prevalence is less than one per cent.
He noted that a study conducted in 2018/2019 in Zanzibar shows that there are 4,854 women sex-workers in Unguja and 700 in Pemba. The number of drug addicts is 2,200 in Unguja and 400 in Pemba.
He appealed to the media to continue cooperating with the ZAC in educating the community to halt HIV infection.
“Without preventing HIV spread, we may be at risk to have an increase in prevalence,” he said.
Journalists, who attended the meeting supported by AMREF-Tanzania, promised to work with ZAC to minimise new HIV infections in special groups.