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Mbarara City records over 1,000 new HIV infections in six months

 Ms Dorcus Twinabeitu, the Mbarara City HIVAids focal person, addresses journalists during a training  in Mbarara City on Tuesday. PHOTO | RAJAB MUKOMBOZI  

What you need to know:

  • Non-adherence to drugs, poverty, domestic violence and stigma are citing among factors fuelling new cases.

Mbarara City has recorded 1,036 new cases of people infected with Human Immune Virus (HIV) in the last six months, experts have said.

Ms Dorcus Twinabeitu, the Mbarara City HIV/Aids Focal Person,  during a training for journalists in the western region organised by Uganda Aids Commission (UAC) on Tuesday, said there is a need to curb the number of new infections.

 “HIV/Aids continues to be a threat in Mbarara City, especially among adolescents and young girls. Between October last year to March this year, the number of females who tested positive were 628 and males 408, making it to a total of 1,036 people,” Ms Twinabeitu said.

She said 185 individuals between 20 and 24 years and 158 females aged between 25-29 years got infected within that period.

Ms Twinabeitu also disclosed that the city has 30,000 people living with HIV. According to the 2014 national census, the population of Mbarara City was 195,013

She attributed the surge in new infections to poverty, drug abuse, especially alcohol, domestic violence and HIV-positive people who are  sexually active and not adhering to treatment.

“We have a challenge that even when we have such big numbers of those contracting the virus among young girls, most of them abandon taking antiretroviral (ARVs) drugs, which increases more chances of spreading the virus,” she added.

According to Uganda Aids Commission (UAC) HIV prevalence in Mbarara City stands at 8.1 percent, which is higher than the national prevalence that of 5.1 percent. 

The UAC director for policy, research and programming, Dr Zepher Kalyabakabo, said they organised the media training to devise ways to improve reporting on HIV/Aids and how to curb the number of new infections.

Ms Joyce Tibaijuka of the Mbarara City Forum of People living with HIV attributed the increasing number of new infections in the city to poverty, stigma and discrimination, gender inequality and  sexual violence.

She also cited high illiteracy levels among young people and lack of comprehensive knowledge on HIV/Aids among young people.