Friday December 7 2012

Moroto counsellors accused of revealing clients’ HIV status

Several people living with HIV have complained of stigma

Karimojong women and men present a song on dangers of HIV/Aids during the commemoration of World Aids Day in Napak District last week. Several people living with HIV have complained of stigma and revelation of their HIV status by counsellors.  

By Steven Ariong

People who go for voluntarily HIV/Aids testing and counselling in health centres in Moroto and Napak districts have accused counsellors of disclosing their HIV status to the public.

Speaking to the Daily Monitor during the World Aids Day celebrations in Apeitolim Trading Centre in Napak District recently, clients said the counsellors, who are trained to keep the clients’ status confidential are the ones spreading the information about clients to the public.

Ms Betty Achen, a person living with HIV, said the conduct of some of the counsellors had discouraged many people from going for voluntarily testing and counselling.

She added that there was increasing stigmatisation of people living with HIV/Aids in both districts.

Ms Achen said disclosing the sero status should be left to persons living with HIV, and not counsellors or medical personnel.

When the Daily Monitor contacted some counsellors, they declined to comment on the matter and referred this reporter to the district health officer.

The Moroto district health officer, Dr Michael Ebele Omeke, and the acting district health director Napak, Dr Timothy Teko, both promised to investigate the matter.

“We are going to follow up that complaint because it’s wrong. If we identify any counsellor doing that he/she will face disciplinary action.”

Dr Omeke advised the clients to reveal such counsellors.
Recently, people living with HIV/Aids in Napak District asked the government to come up with a strong policy to protect them.

The group said many of them are denied jobs in the district even when they were qualified.

The district chairperson, Mr Joseph Lomonyang, urged the public to stop mocking people living with HIV, saying the virus did not have boundaries.
The RDC, Mr Beka Dudu, told people living with HIV to report those who stigmatise or deny them jobs.