Nineteen years after its inception, the Aids Information Centre (AIC) has finally started distributing free anti-retroviral drugs to people living with HIV/Aids at its facilities across the country.
The centre now joins organisations like the Joint Clinical Research Centre, The Aids Support Organisation, Mild May and a host of other organisations which offer HIV/Aids treatment and care to patients.
According to Dr Raymond Byaruhanga, the AIC executive director, the move to start providing treatment to people living with HIV/Aids is in line with government’s efforts to increase access to HIV/Aids treatment following reports that out of an estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV/Aids, only 370,000 are receiving treatment.
Speaking during the centres’ annual general meeting in Kampala on Friday, Dr Byaruhanga said the facility will target discordant couples who are receiving services at the various centres countrywide.
“We are implementing a national prevention strategy where we are going to provide ARVs through a combination therapy approach. We want the people who are negative to remain negative and those who are positive not to spread the virus to others,” he said. He added that they are targeting communities that are highly at risk of contracting HIV/Aids such as sex workers, security personnel and boda boda cyclists.
AIC was formed in 1991 as a centre for information when HIV/Aids was still new in the country. Its sole purpose was for provision of information but according to Dr Byaruhanga, the centre has been forced to open a treatment facility because of insistence from the clients.
“They have been asking us when we are going to open the services and we thought that we should actually do so that we can also join in the scaling of provision of care and treatment,” he said.