ICAP at Columbia University is launching the Tanzania HIV Impact Survey (THIS 2022-2023) to assess the country’s current HIV epidemic and the effectiveness of existing responses.
THIS 2022-2023 is a national Population-level HIV Impact Assessment (PHIA) conducted with support from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and technical assistance through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and ICAP. THIS 2022-2023 is being led by the Government of Tanzania (GoT) through the Tanzania Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS), Zanzibar AIDS Commission (ZAC), the Ministries of Health (MoH) of mainland and Zanzibar, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the Office of Chief Government Statistician (OCGS), and the President’s Office Regional Administration and Local Government (PORALG). The survey will be implemented by NBS, OCGS, and ICAP in collaboration with local partners, including the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), the Zanzibar Institute of Health Research (ZAHRI), public health laboratories, the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP), and the Zanzibar Integrated HIV, Hepatitis, Tuberculosis and Leprosy Program (ZIHHTLP).
An estimated 20,000 households, including 40,000 eligible adults 15 years and older, are expected to be reached by the survey. The key results will include information on the percentage of people living with HIV, the number of new HIV infections occurring each year, and the percentage of HIV+ people with viral load suppression, while assessing differentiation by age, sex, and geographic area.
THIS 2022-2023 will provide HIV testing in the households to survey participants. Those who test positive for HIV will be offered counseling and those who are not on antiretroviral treatment (ART) will be referred to a health facility of their choice. Survey participants will also be tested for hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
“This survey will help us better understand Tanzania’s progress in reaching the UNAIDS 95-95-95 targets, which will guide our efforts in reaching those most vulnerable to HIV,” said Erika Fazito, an ICAP PHIA technical specialist. “It’s also critical that we understand what progress has specifically been made since the previous THIS in Tanzania, so that we can gauge what continue to be long-standing constraints and barriers to achieving epidemic control within the country.”
The previous HIV survey in Tanzania, THIS 2016-2017, demonstrated that an estimated 60.6 percent of adults 15 years and older were aware of their HIV-positive status, which was significantly below the 90 percent UNAIDS target of the time. The survey also showed that among adults aged 15-49, women were almost twice as likely to be HIV positive compared to men. Nevertheless, THIS 2016-2017 revealed that men had lower awareness of their HIV status than women, were less likely to be on HIV treatment, and less often had viral load suppression compared to women.
THIS 2016-2017 results demonstrated that HIV prevention among women and improved HIV diagnostic efforts, combined with improved linkage to treatment among men, would be critical for epidemic control.
“Following the strategic changes in programming from THIS 2016-2017,” said Dr. George S. Mgomella, Epidemiology and Surveillance Team Lead at CDC Tanzania, “Tanzania has made significant progress toward epidemic control and therefore updated results from THIS 2022-2023 are urgently needed to inform more targeted programming to reach the last mile in ending HIV in our country.”
THIS 2022-2023 will deploy 65 teams of seven people each throughout mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar between October 2022 and February 2023. All survey staff will follow COVID-19 prevention and risk mitigation guidelines, and as a part of the survey, will also assess participant COVID-19 vaccination and acceptability.
“The data we gather from THIS 2022-2023 will help further direct policy, programs, and funding surrounding HIV priorities and contribute to our goal of achieving an AIDS-free generation,” said Deogratias Morice Kakiziba, THIS 2022-2023 project director. “The combined results of ICAP surveys conducted around the world show us that much progress has been made to address HIV in the most-affected regions, but also that more work still needs to be done to ensure that progress is maintained.”