Twelve years ago, a group of women in Moshi, Tanzania, became concerned about a new disease in the country: HIV/AIDS. They decided to take it upon themselves to do something to raise awareness about it and formed an organization called KIWAKKUKI, which stands for “Women Against Aids in Kilimanjaro.” It now has sixteen hundred members.
Dafrosa Itemba, the executive coordinator of the group, says the Kilimanjaro region has a very poor HIV reporting system, so the exact number of cases is not known. She says the group multiplies the hospital HIV patients by six to estimate the number of cases in the region.
Ms. Itemba says it was a challenge for the women to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS because it was taboo to discuss sex or mention sex organs. She also says women had very little political power. But she says they told people it’s a matter of life and death and it’s time to break the silence about the disease. English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua spoke with Dafrosa Itemba.