HIV/AIDS Campaign Launched in Tanzania to Address Issue of Multiple Sex Partners

The group Femina Health Information Project has launched a campaign in Tanzania to raise public awareness about issues surrounding multiple concurrent sex partners in an effort to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS, the Guardian/IPP Media reports. The campaign, called One Love, was formed in response to the high rates of HIV/AIDS in Eastern and Southern Africa and also includes nine Southern African Development Community countries, including Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

A recent study carried out by Femina HIP and the University of Dar es Salaam showed that multiple concurrent partnerships -- the practice of having more than one partner at the same time, or MCPs -- is common among men and women in Tanzania. The One Love campaign will be localized and adapted to fit the social and cultural environment of the country and is endorsed by the Tanzania Commission for AIDS. Research in the Morogoro and Iringa regions of Tanzania conducted by Femina HIP revealed that a major reason people have multiple sex partners is a lack of communication. "Some people have sexual preferences but they are either afraid or ashamed to communicate this with their partners. As a result, they look for other partners," Femina HIP Executive Director Minou Fuglesang said. The research prompted Femina HIP to design a plan to curb the spread of HIV by reducing MCPs. Because the group promotes partner communication as a way to reduce MCPs, the main message for the One Love campaign is "protect, respect and communicate."

During the program's launch, Swedish Ambassador to Tanzania Staffan Herrstrom said other factors -- such as cultural and societal norms, poverty and alcohol use -- can prompt people to have multiple sex partners. According to Chicu Lwena of a Dar es Salaam-based TV station, another cultural factor attributed to the practice of MCPs is that women are not economically empowered. She said, "Women are just not empowered economically to be independent, so they enter into sexual relationships for money and material possessions" (Philemon, Guardian/IPP Media, 10/24).

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