Friday December 1 2017

Fight against HIV should continue

By Editor

Today, Uganda joins the rest of the world to commemorate the World Aids Day. On this occasion, we should extend our gratitude to those who have championed and led Uganda in her pursuit to bring HIV infection to an end. In this regard, we must not forget to appreciate, especially people living with HIV/Aids, who have confronted the Aids scourge head on.
While some milestones have been attained in the fight against HIV, the journey towards its total elimination is still a long one. As such, every effort should be marshalled to kick out the virus from all the corners it may rear its ugly head.
It is in this regard that the Uganda Aids Commission’s recent move to redirect its campaign to target men at hangout places in the evening hours should be applauded (see: ‘Govt takes HIV fight to men’s hangout places’ Daily Monitor, November 29). The move is meant to plug the hole created by the general laxity among men to test for HIV as well as to enroll for anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs). This is a major hindrance to government’s efforts to eliminate HIV/Aids by 2030.
But for this to be more effective, UAC should include in this programme, the women who usually hangout with the men. These men’s companions deserve a message too to bolster the struggle.
There is also an urgent need to realign the anti-HIV/Aids programmes for the youth away from the traditional ABC (abstinence, be faithful, use a condom), which no longer appeals much to them. To the effect, there is need to follow the youth where they are found most today – social media.
Many youth today use social media - Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and such other forums to access much of the information they consume. Therefore, promoting tailor-made anti-HIV messages on such platforms will help in revitalising the fight against the scourge among the youth.
Tailor-made related anti-HIV/Aids messages placed in social media will quickly capture the attention of the youth to the advantage of the war against the scourge.
In 2016, an estimated 1.4 million people were living with HIV, and an estimated 28,000 Ugandans died of Aids-related illnesses. As of 2016, the estimated HIV prevalence among adults (aged 15 to 49) stood at 6.5 per cent.
Today, as we celebrate a reduction in the number of Ugandans dying from HIV/Aids-related illness partly due to increases in the coverage and intensity of HIV prevention interventions as well as the expansion of HIV treatment, it is still not yet time to relax. The battle must continue.

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