By Clare Muhindo
HIV/AIDS prevalence among uniformed service groups (army, police and prisons) is on the rise at 7.3%, a new report by Makerere University’s Joint AIDS Programme (MJAP) shows.
The institution’s 2013 Annual Report shows that HIV prevalence is highest among commercial sex workers at 15.4%.
The statistics are based on HIV tests carried out on 64,208 people in 2013 by MJAP in its operational sites across the country.
Dr. Jennifer Namusobya Isabirye, the executive director MJAP said that the statistics were derived from data collected during routine service deliveries by the organization.
“Our major target was mainly to the populations which we cited as highly susceptible to HIV, and these included the uniformed service groups as well as commercial sex workers,” said Namusobya.
Frank Baine, the spokesperson for Uganda Prisons Services said uniformed service groups may be susceptible to HIV because of the nature of their work and behaviour.
“Officers in uniform tend to be generous whenever they have money and always want to spend. Women think they have authority, hence they need security,” he said.
Fred Enanga, the Police spokesperson, acknowledged the report saying that police officers who have tested HIV positive are benefitting from programs within the police health centres.
He however says that police has come up with behavioural change programs.
“Police officers are encouraged to test routinely and candidates during pass outs are warned about the threat of HIV,” he said.
He says that police standing orders address some of the behavioural factors that predispose officers to HIV such as alcohol consumption.
“The high prevalence of HIV among police officers is not necessarily because of the nature of the job, but about individuals’ life styles
A report by UNAIDS on HIV and uniformed officers shows that they are a highly vulnerable group to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV mainly due to their work environment and mobility, which expose them to higher risk of HIV infection.
According to the report, military personnel and camps, including installations of peacekeeping forces, attract sex workers and those who deal in illicit drugs.
Uganda’s HIV prevalence rate has shot up from 6.4% in 2005 to 7.3% as of September last year, a new report by the ministry of health has revealed.
According to the 2011 Uganda AIDS Indicator Survey (UAIS) report released Wednesday at the Media Center in Kampala, the percentage increase is higher among women than men.
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