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Myths still responsible for spread of HIV

By Geoffrey Mutegeki

Added 23rd July 2019 03:54 PM

Recently during a workshop to train Buganda Kingdom on AIDS champions, some of the participants presented some of the myths that they interface with.

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A participant asking a question during the PEWOSA, UNAIDS workshop at Masengere on Friday

Recently during a workshop to train Buganda Kingdom on AIDS champions, some of the participants presented some of the myths that they interface with.

 

KAMPALA - Lots of myths about how you can cure or prevent HIV still exist over 30 years since HIV and AIDS were confirmed in Uganda.

These myths about HIV and AIDS have sometimes led to behaviours that cause people to get the virus.

Recently during a workshop to train Buganda Kingdom on AIDS champions, some of the participants presented some of the myths that they interface with.

“Is it true that when a person living with HIV swallows panadol before sex, the virus gets dormant and cannot be spread to someone who is negative?,” asked Lawrence Nsubuga.

Nsubuga, who hails from Mityana, revealed that he has heard people say Panadol makes the virus dormant for about three days.

“I’m told even when you go for testing after swallowing panadol, the virus will not be detected and thus can’t spread,” he said.

Nsubuga says some youth in Mityana swallow pain killers before sex, hoping it makes the virus dormant.

However, Richard Kawooya, Prevention Officer at Aids Information Centre (AIC) noted that panadol or any other painkiller cannot prevent HIV spread.

“It is not true that when you take panadol the virus will hide, don’t be deceived you will get infected. Even if you swallow panadol or drink coca-cola as some people are saying the virus will be detected if the machines used are authentic,” Kawooya said.

He revealed that some youth believe in alcohol as prevention by claiming that when they are too drunk, the virus cannot affect them or they can’t spread it because of the high alcohol content in the blood.

“Some youth think when they are drunk like at around 12:00 am the virus becomes dormant. They claim it gets affected by alcohol and can’t be spread. This is very wrong and youth should be cautious and stop being reckless,” Kawooya said.

Statistics from AIC indicate that in 2018 at least 1.5million people are living with HIV in and 58,000 new infections were registered averaging 160 new infections every day.

“It is these myths and misinformation that is leading to these high infections rates. I encourage Ugandans to go and test for HIV, use condoms to prevent your selves, take medicine and stop being reckless,” Kawooya said.

The workshop was organized by the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in partnership with Project to Empower Women through Savings and Loan Association (PEWOSA).

Evelynn Ndagire from Sseguku challenged Kawooya to explain if prayers can heal HIV/AIDS.

In response, Kawooya explained that it is good to pray but drugs should be taken at all times.

“The best thing is to take medicine. God gave doctors the knowledge to make medicine, so don’t trust those entirely telling you to abandon medicines and go for prayers,” He said.

According to PEWOSA head Florence Luwedde, the workshop is one of the initiatives under the UNAIDS and the Buganda Kingdom “Gwanga Mujje: One million men” campaign to mobilize one million men to access HIV Counselling and Testing as an entry - point into HIV treatment and care.

“We have commissioned 160 Buganda AIDS Champions to accelerate efforts to achieve a generation free from HIV in Uganda,” Luwedde said.

The project will last for four months is targeting to reach 5million people in the 18 counties of Buganda Kingdom.

“We are targeting mainly men between 40 to 45 years. We shall reach them through establishing health camps and making partnerships with organizations that have the aim of transforming the lives of our people, ”Luwedde said.

It should be remembered that in 2017, the  Kabaka of Buganda Kingdom Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II was named a UNAIDS goodwill ambassador to inspire other countries in the region and also to strengthen the traditional leaderships’ involvement in the health-related issues as this will create awareness on the threat AIDS pose to people.

“At the end of the campaign we want to have 90 % of the people tested, 90% of the people on ARVs and 90% using them effectively,” Luwedde said.

According to statistics from UNAIDS, HIV prevalence in Buganda stands at 10.6% above the national prevalence of 7.3%.

Under the UNAIDS partnership, the Kabaka seeks to increase the engagement of men as new day changer in the AIDS response in our region and southern Africa, the region most affected by AIDS.

UNAIDS has partnered with Buganda Kingdom to revive the fight against the epidemic.

The highest-ranking districts with infections include Lwengo, Ssembabule, Rakai, Mubende, Bukomansimbi, Mityana, Wakiso and Kalangala.

The 90, 90, 90 strategy is an ambitious treatment target that was launched by UNAIDS and other partners.

It is aimed at diagnosing 90% of all people living with HIV, provide antiretroviral therapy (ART) for 90% of those diagnosed, and achieve viral suppression for 90% of those treated by 2020.

 

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