HIV/AIDS is a major health problem globally. In 2004, it was estimated that about 40 million people were living with HIV/AIDS worldwide. Sub-Saharan Africa is the world’s most severely affected region, with only 10% of the world’s population it harbours about two thirds of the global total number of people living with HIV/AIDS. One in 12 adults in this region is reported to be infected with HIV.
Since 1983 when the first cases of AIDS were reported in Tanzania, the HIV epidemic has spread rapidly to all districts and communities affecting all sectors of the society. A total of 18,929 AIDS cases were reported to the NACP from the 21 regions during the year 2003. This resulted into a cumulative total of 176,102 reported cases since 1983 when the first 3 cases were identified in the country
In 2003 over 1.8 million persons were estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS and close to 800,000 cumulative AIDS cases. The overall prevalence of HIV infection among blood donors during 2003 was 8.8%. Recent data based on household surveys estimate the seroprevalence in adults in Tanzania to be 7%, with a wide variation across the regions. Most infections are transmitted through sexual intercourse and hence the population most severely affected are the sexually active individuals between 15 and 49 years of age. Women have a higher risk to become infected than men.
The impact of the HIV epidemic has been profound and has affected all sectors. Today, HIV/AIDS is recognized not only as a major public health concern, but also as a socio-economic and developmental problem in Tanzania as in most sub Saharan African countries. Data from the Adult Morbidity and Mortality Project (AMMP) in 2002 showed that HIV/AIDS and TB were the leading causes of mortality in Hai, Temeke and Morogoro Rural districts where the study was done.