Most at-risk populations: contextualising HIV prevention programmes targeting marginalised groups in Zanzibar, Tanzania

  • Naheed Ahmed


According to a 2009 UNAIDS report the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in Zanzibar, Tanzania, is low in the general population (0.6%), but high among vulnerable groups, specifically sex workers (10.8%), injecting drug users (15.1%), and men who have sex with men (12.3%). In response to this concentrated epidemic, the Government of Zanzibar, international and local non-profit organisations have focused their prevention activities on these marginal populations. Although these efforts are beneficial in terms of disseminating information about HIV/AIDS and referring clients to health clinics, they fail to address how the socio-economic status of these groups places them at a greater risk for contracting and dying from the virus. Furthermore, there is an absence of qualitative research on these populations which is needed to understand the challenges these groups face and to improve the effectiveness of interventions. Through interviews with employees of government agencies and non-profit organisations, medical professionals, vulnerable populations and HIV/AIDS patients, this paper used a political economy of health and syndemic framework to examine how local realities inform and challenge HIV/AIDS programmes in Zanzibar.

Keywords: drug users, HIV prevention, medical anthropology, men who have sex with men, political economy of health, sex workers, syndemic theory

African Journal of AIDS Research 2014, 13(3): 205–213

Author Biography

Naheed Ahmed
Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Avenue, SOC 107 Tampa, Florida

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1608-5906
print ISSN: 1727-9445