Uganda requires new strategies to fight HIV

Uganda requires new strategies if the country is to change the course of HIV transmission according to an official from the Ministry of Health.

Uganda requires new strategies if the country is to change the course of HIV transmission according to an official from the Ministry of Health.

Dr Shabam Mugerwa, a senior medical officer in the ministry, said that Uganda is facing the risk of losing the fight against HIV because the country now registers 130,000 new infections every year.

Recently, health centres in Kumi, Amuria and Katakwi districts, which were previously supported by The Aids Support Organization were handed over to Baylor-Uganda.  During the handover in Soroti, Dr Mugerwa said: “Despite high levels of knowledge, HIV is being driven in Uganda by high-risk sex, high rates of discordant couples, concurrent sexually transmitted infections which increase transmission of HIV, and poverty leading to commercial transactional and intergenerational sex.”

Health services gap

Dr Mugerwa explained that data from the Aids Information Service in 2012 estimated more than 14.6 million were in need of HIV testing and counselling and prevention of mother to child transmission, but the national results of an earlier survey in 2011 showed that Uganda covered around an estimated 4.3 million people accounting for only 29.9% of the targeted population.

“We have a big gap of more than 10 million people in Uganda whom we must reach out to and provide HIV services because if the majority of Ugandans do not know their HIV status, how do you expect us to succeed in the fight against HIV?” Dr Mugerwa asked.

He went on to say that whereas the national prevalence rate stands at 7.3%, HIV prevalence ranges from a low of 4.1% in the Mid Eastern region to a high of 10.6% in Central 1 region.

He said: “There was a lot of duplication and wastage of resources meant to help in the fight against HIV and the Ministry of Health has therefore developed a new roadmap. This roadmap rationalises and widens partner support for comprehensive HIV services in order to get better results. Originally there were areas, especially some parts of Karamoja, which were not getting any kind of support for HIV-related work.”

Read about how lack of HIV test kits in Uganda are putting unborn babies at risk

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