By Juliet Waiswa
District leaders have expressed their concern over the increasing HIV/AIDS prevalence rate of in Karamoja sub region saying that there is a likelihood of some communities being wiped out if the situation is not contained.
Leaders from Moroto, Kotido, Abim, Napak and Nakapiripirit at a stakeholders’ meeting in Moroto district blamed the increasing rates of the virus on the mining activities which have opened gates for different people.
The most affected districts, according to local leaders, are Nakapiripirit (Acherer) and Moroto( Rupa) where there is unregulated gold mining which they said has attracted people from different places.
The meeting organized by Strengthening the Capacity of Civil Society and Local Governments in HIV/AID Prevention in Karamoja region( SCALAP) was attended by mayors, district chairpersons, religious, cultural and traditional leaders from the region among others
The project coordinator SCALAP-K, Lucy Apio said that there is need for local leaders to engage the communities at every village meeting as a way of creating awareness.
In his presentation, the District Health Officer (DHO) Napak District James Lemukol also revealed that hot spots which include urban disco places, mushrooming mining areas, alcohol abuse among the youth, and poverty are some of the factors which have led to the increasing prevalence rates.
Lemukol also said that communities of street children returning from Kampala, Jinja and Mbale streets, are also spreading the disease after they are taken off the streets and reunited with their families.
He said: “KCCA rounds up most of the children from the streets and brings them back to us. In most cases, we check the status of these children and are found to be sick, but after getting involved with the communities they run back to the city or other communities where they spread the disease”.
Lemukol said that in Napak district most cases of HIV/AIDS have been mainly caused by rural- urban migration; he also said that most of the children from the streets come from Napak.
The Country Director of the Alliance of Mayors and Municipal and Leaders on HIV/AIDS in Africa (AMICAALL-Uganda), Dr. John Mugisa, said that research carried out by his organization showed that the HIV/ AIDS prevalence had increased rapidly in the region in the last 10 years from 3.5% to 6.5%.
Mugisa told the leader that the social cultural practices like wife inheritance, rape; tattooing, ear piercing and FGM are also some of the factors affecting the region.
He said that according to the findings widow inheritance stood out as the most common practice in the region which needs to be tackled.
He however told the leaders that as government comes up with the National Strategy Plan, the region should come up with some of the priority issues affecting Karamoja to be addressed.
He said that AMICAALL is going to support the local government to come up with bylaws which can guide the region.
Other leaders who Mugisa said should be of help are elders, religious, cultural and traditional leaders.