What you need to know:
World Aids Day.
Uganda has over the years been recognised for making strides in the fight against HIV/Aids. But the latest statistics suggest that Uganda’s achievements could easily be reversed by the number of infections among the young people.
Yesterday, Uganda joined the rest of the world in marking the World Aids Day. Governments, non-governmental organisations and individuals around the world observed the day with calls for everyone to do more to bring down the numbers of new infections.
Designated on December 1, 1988, the day is an international day dedicated to raising awareness of the Aids pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), globally there were about 39 million people living with HIV at the end of 2022.
In Uganda, the World Aids Day commemorations were held in Rakai District, with President Museveni as the chief guest.
But the day was preceded by news of the alarming number of new infections among young people. According to the Uganda Aids Commission (UAC), more than 50,000 new HIV infections in the last two years have been among young people aged 15 to 24, triggering a crisis for the country’s future.
According to Dr Nelson Musoba, the director general of Uganda Aids Commission, there are about 1,000 new infections in the country every week, and it is infecting predominantly the young people. A data set from the commission put the figures at about 70 new infections among the young people every day.
According to UAC, more than 51,000 people contracted HIV last year and out of more than 1.4 million people living with the virus, around 17,000 died. The figures indicate that new infections are higher among adolescents and young women.
Uganda has over the years been recognised for making strides in the fight against HIV/Aids. But the latest statistics suggest that Uganda’s achievements could easily be reversed by the number of infections among the young people. This calls for immediate intervention to reduce the infections.
First, is the need to educate them about the disease. This age group is key if we are to achieve our dream of ending HIV in Uganda by 2030. This calls for a concerted effort among all stakeholders, including parents, religious and cultural leaders, schools and influential figures. They all need to preach the same message to urge young people to abstain and use protection.
Then we need to fight stigma. Earlier this month, a new report suggested that a growing number of adolescents living with HIV are not taking their antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) that prevent the onset of Aids. Among the reasons given for this trend was stigma. Young people need to learn to live with the disease.
Finally, we need to reduce mother-to-child transmissions. All pregnant women must ensure they go for testing and get the right medication if they test positive. The medicine is available. We can prevent the transmission of the disease to our babies.