The joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (Unaids) has warned of a looming crisis unless Uganda controls the 227 new HIV infections daily, especially among the youth.
While presenting her credentials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday, the new Unaids country director, Ms Amakobe Sande, said government and other agencies involved in HIV/Aids control programme should work harder and reverse the new trend of infections among the youth. She said failure to curb the scourge would negate the gains so far achieved.
“We need to pay attention to young people, especially girls and women. Uganda still produces 83,000 new HIV/Aids infections annually, meaning 227 new infections daily and I consider this a crisis,” she said.
Ms Sande said in the last one month she has been in the country, she has been able to review Uganda’s data which is impressive; including managing to get 900,000 patients on antiretroviral treatment and the reduction of mother-to-child infections, which now stand at 3,500 new infections annually. Ms Sande called for total elimination of new infections.
“I am coming in to take over from Mr Musa Bungundu. I intend to build on that positive legacy and I will be working on elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV/Aids in Uganda and I am calling upon all stakeholders not to relax,” she said.
She urged government to enforce the new science and evidence around managing HIV testing which suggests that anyone who tests positive should be put on treatment immediately instead of waiting for their CD4 count to drop.
“Treatment is also prevention and the first line of response in putting patients on treatment,” she said.
About Ms Sande
Ms Sande has been the Oxfam deputy country representative and country director for post-genocide Rwanda and also Zambia. She presented her credentials to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday after being appointed the new Unaids country director. She replaces Musa Bungundu whose term of office expired early this year.
Ms Sande also served as regional director for ActionAid International’s Southern Africa Partnership Programme, where she served concurrently as thematic head for HIV/Aids for Africa.