Children and AIDS

Children, adolescents, women and key populations continue to be disproportionately affected.

Six-month-old baby.


HIV prevalence is high in key populations in both the mainland and in Zanzibar.

Adult HIV prevalence on the mainland reduced significantly although this reduction has occurred mainly among men. Njombe region has a high prevalence with 14.8 per cent, while Dar es Salaam and Mbeya shoulder an estimated one third of the total number of adult people living with HIV.

The epidemic among teens aged 15–19 years has remained stable since 2008, with no decline in adolescent HIV prevalence. Tanzania carries 5 per cent of the global burden of HIV among adolescents.

Girls are disproportionately affected and are almost three times more likely to be living with HIV than boys of the same age. Early marriage and childbearing are common – 27 per cent of girls aged 15–19 years are either pregnant or have had a child.

The HIV epidemic shows strong regional variation, with children, adolescents, women and key populations continuing to be disproportionately affected. Mainland Tanzania has a generalized epidemic, while in Zanzibar, HIV prevalence is concentrated among key populations.


What is UNICEF doing?


Focus on the first decade: 
Infants, young children and pregnant and lactating women


UNICEF supports the national goal of eliminating new paediatric HIV infections and keeping mothers living with HIV well through improved maternal, newborn and child health programmes. This includes UNICEF’s support to scale-up and improve the quality of care for children who are already living with HIV.

Strategic planning: To guide national efforts in the elimination of paediatric HIV and provide improved access to ART for children living with HIV.

Coordination and monitoring: UNICEF works with the MOHCDGEC and partners to strengthen coordination of PMTCT activities through regular programmatic monitoring reviews. Improved access to quality, integrated HIV and Reproductive Maternal, Neonatal, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH) services is important. UNICEF supports strengthening the coordination of national and regional government-led paediatric HIV working groups to improve treatment outcomes in young children.

Continuum of PMTCT services: Retention of mothers and infants enrolled in the PMTCT programme ensures the delivery of the full continuum of HIV services. Through UNICEF’s support and in partnership with the MOHCDGEC and partners, the development and implementation of the mother and baby cohort monitoring system is underway.

Access to paediatric HIV services: Use of Point of Care (POC) technology in HIV diagnosis and viral load monitoring has demonstrated effi ciency in the HIV testing cascade for children. UNICEF, through the UNITAID partnership, provides strategic support to the Government of Tanzania in the process of adapting new technology to improve HIV diagnosis and HIV viral load monitoring.

Focus on the second decade:
Adolescents and their families

Adolescence marks a period of major biological and psychosocial changes. It also marks a period of major opportunities. Adolescent girls are particularly vulnerable. To strengthen adolescent empowerment and safe transition into adulthood, prevent new HIV infections, and locate, treat and retain those already living with HIV, UNICEF focuses on the following:

Mobilizing political commitment, coordination and resources to deliver high-impact interventions to adolescents who have remained out of reach.

Supporting the generation and use of good quality data as a cornerstone of an effective HIV response for adolescents.

Supporting multi-dimensional programmes that move beyond the biomedical HIV prevention and treatment response. UNICEF, in partnership with government and civil society organizations, supports safe, healthy and productive transitions from adolescence to adulthood. It is spearheading a pilot programme which combines social protection, livelihood, reproductive health, HIV and violence prevention education, empowerment and services for adolescent girls and boys aged 14–19 years.

Confidential adolescent responsive services delivered in the right location and at the most appropriate times. UNICEF supports the development of Teen Clubs providing adolescents living with HIV with psychosocial support and sexual and reproductive health services.

Engaging adolescents through communication and new technologies. UNICEF supports initiatives like U-Report, which provides SMS messaging on health and HIV issues; Shuga, which is an evidence-based, participatory behaviour change communication radio serial drama; and T-Watoto mobile phone surveys.

Galvanizing partnerships for adolescents by bringing attention to the most disadvantaged adolescents girls and boys and ensuring that their voices are heard.