Dr. Sam Biraro, the ICAP at Columbia country director said that the report, was expected to be out by June this year and will be able to provide a picture on whether the country's HIV interventions and strategies have been successful or not
PIC:The ministry of health officials admire cars donated to the ministry by ICAP at Columbia. Right is the ICAP at Columbia country director, Dr. Sam Biraro and the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Diana Atwiine (middle).
At least Forty Thousand participants from 520 villages in Uganda are taking part in the National HIV Survey which is geared towards establishing the number of new virus infections in the country since 2011. The last study indicated that HIV prevalence in Uganda stood at 7 percent.
The survey, dubbed 'The Uganda Population HIV Impact Assessment (UPHIA)' is conducted by ICAP at Columbia University, in collaboration with the ministry of health and other partners.
It aims at establishing the current national HIV prevalence rate and the results of the survey are expected to facilitate in the formulation of new policies towards managing the disease trends.
Dr. Sam Biraro, the ICAP at Columbia country director said that the report, was expected to be out by June this year and will be able to provide a picture on whether the country's HIV interventions and strategies have been successful or not.
Dr. Biraro also handed over three vehicles to the Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary, Dr. Diana Atwiine , which will be used in managing the survey.
Funded with USD4million by the United States government through the Center for Disease Control, the survey's primary objective is to establish the number of new infections at the national level and whether the HIV prevention strategies have worked or not.
"It will give a clear picture on whether the ABC (abstinence, be faithful and condom use) and male circumcision approaches have had an effect in the prevention of HIV infection," Dr. Biraalo explained.
He said the last study done in 2011 revealed that HIV prevalence stood at 7 percent but the current study will indicate the new status.
He said that following the United Nations AIDS strategy of 90-90-90, an ambitious treatment target to help end AIDS epidemic by 2020, the survey aims at establishing the percentage of HIV positive people on antiretroviral treatment had their viral load suppressed. This reduces substantially the risk of such patients to infect others.
"It will be an indication of how well treatment has been working, suppression of the virus implies that the patients have been taking the drugs well and are healthy, their chances of transmitting the virus to others are minimized," Dr. Biraro explained.
The survey includes testing participants in the field and at the Uganda Virus Research institute to measure the amount of the virus in their blood.
Others issues in the survey include establishing the rate of drug resistance and the causes, test levels of stigma among HIV positive people, domestic violence as a result of the infection and other issues.
"We anticipate that we would have a good understanding of the burden of HIV in the country and the progress made in preventing and treating the disease in the country. This will inform further policing as well as show strengths and weaknesses," Dr. Biraro said.
Dr. Atwiine said that the country was eager to receive the survey results to enable stakeholders take action. "You should be able to give us quality results, which will be used to determine our strategic level of intervention and showcase the World that our results can be dependable to do strategic interventions"' she explained.
The survey director and principal investigator, Dr. Alex Opio assured the public that the survey would come up with quality and latest data on HIV population levels, which he said would help Uganda plan and coordinate programs at both national and regional levels.
He said about 300 field workers were involved in collecting the data and had so far covered 21 weeks out of 33 for the survey period.
He said ICAP at Columbia is doing similar surveys in 20 countries and supports 50 surveys. Similar surveys are ongoing in Tanzania, Swaziland, Lesotho and other countries.