On this World Aids Day 2020, we join the rest of the world to remember millions of people who have been affected by HIV/Aids due to loss of loved ones, or those who have contracted Aids. We stand with all of them.
Every year, we hold the Kabaka’s Birthday Run, which we dedicate to a theme related to health. Starting this year, and for the next two years, we dedicate the Birthday Run to the fight against the HIV/Aids scourge.
The current theme runs thus: “Men against Aids to save the girl-child.” We trust that such messages that accompany the Run take us a step further in the fight against HIV/Aids and we intend to focus on a continued fight against it amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Uganda had almost achieved the global UNAIDS targets with people living with HIV knowing their status and those knowing their HIV positive status accessing treatment.
We appreciate all men and boys who have responded to our call to access HIV/Aids services. However, it has been learnt that the gains are not likely to be sustained by the end of 2020 because testing and treatment dropped considerably during the Co-vid-19 lock down.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the prevalence of HIV in Uganda stands at 6.2 per cent with the prevalence being higher in females (7.6 per cent) than males (4.7 per cent).
This corresponds to about1.2 million people aged between 15 and 64 living with HIV in Uganda. The Uganda Population Based HIV Impact Assessment (UPHIA) report done in 2017 indicated that in Buganda alone, the prevalence is 8 per cent, which is higher than the national prevalence. Going by this same report, Buganda registered the highest number of new infections.
The kingdom prioritises health in all our community engagements with nearly all functions being preceded with health camps where HIV screening is carried out.
Pronouncements encouraging the people of Buganda and all Ugandans to adopt healthy living habits are constantly made.
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, we urge all of you to stay safe by following the standard operating procedures (SOPs) as issued by the Health Ministry so as to avoid contracting HIV/Aids.
Finally, I would like to express my appreciation to UNAIDS and other UN agencies for recognising our role in the promotion of better health by naming me the UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for Ending Aids among men in Eastern and Southern Africa.
Together, we can defeat HIV and ensure an AIDS free generation by 2030.
Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II
is the Kabaka of Buganda