PIUMA is the HIV-AIDS patients' self-help and advocacy group from the Bulongwa area of Makete District. It has been leading the struggle for respect for the human rights of PLWHAs in their district and the for the provision of basic care including HIV services since 2004.
This week PIUMA's General Secretary Anna Mwinuka and its new staff coordinator Taimu Sanga are in Dar es Salaam to process the organization's permit for its Voluntary Counselling and Testing services offered at PIUMA House in Bulongwa and through the organization's village-based outreach program. Last year, PIUMA counselled and tested more than 2,000 people in Makete District as its contribution to the President's national HIV testing capaign.
Both the District and Regional Medical Officers have endorsed the application and PIUMA is now completing the paperwork for its formal licence from the Ministry of Health. PIUMA is the first patient-led HIV testing initiative in Tanzania and has plans to expand its services to include a full range of HIV care and treatment options.
Another member of PIUMA, Nasibu Ntullo, has just completed a seminar on HIV /AIDS Training for Youth in Dar es Salaam. He is returning to Makete. PIUMA has identified youth and children affected by HIV as a priority for action by the organization.
HIV prevalence in the sexually active population of the district is thought to be close to 20%. Availability of education, testing, and treatment remains, unfortunately, inadequate across the entire district.