“Kayunga was chosen due to high HIV prevalence currently at 7.6%, high presence of most-at-risk populations including the fisher-folks and migrant workers, as well as high teenage pregnancy currently at 24%,”
The World AIDS Day which is commemorated on December 1, every year will be held in Kayunga district because it has the highest disease HIV prevalence in the country.
While addressing journalists at the Uganda Media Centre, yesterday, the minister in charge of the presidency, Esther Mbayo, said that the commemoration will be held at Lusana Church of Ugandan, Lusana Sub-county, Kayunga district.
"Kayunga was chosen due to high HIV prevalence currently at 7.6%, high presence of most-at-risk populations including the fisher-folks and migrant workers, as well as high teenage pregnancy currently at 24%," she said.
The event will be held under the theme ‘engaging young people to champion the end of new HIV infections'. President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni will be the guest of honour.
Mbayo explained that the focus of government, in the fight against HIV/AIDS, is the young people who comprise the majority of the Ugandan population, and also contribute 34% of new infections annually.
Every week, Uganda gets 1000 new infections, the majority of which, according to Dr. Nelson Musoba the director Uganda AIDS Commission, are among adolescents.
WHO reveals that among the 1,000 new infections, a third are young people between the ages of 15 and 25. In addition, 3.7% of females and 2.4% of males in the age group live with HIV in Uganda.
According to the 2019 UNAIDS data, Uganda has 1.4 million people living with HIV. HIV prevalence among adults (15-49 years) is 5.7%. By the end of 2018, 23,000 AIDS-related deaths were recorded.
Mbayo noted that though Uganda has made progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS, the burden of new infections is still too high and needs to be addressed.
"We are emphasizing the strategy of combining prevention, care, and treatment. Let everyone test for HIV/AIDS to know their status. If they found HIV negative then avoid all the risks that may predispose you to get infected with HIV. If after testing you are found to be positive then get enrolled on treatment," she said.
She also noted that the infection rate which is highest among adolescent girls can be prevented if men embraced HIV testing.
She revealed that several types of research done around the subject have revealed that men shun testing.
Karusa Kiragu, the UNAIDS country director, also urged Ugandan men to go for circumcision, stating that the reason why the Democratic Republic of Congo has had a rapid reduction in its HIV/AIDS infection, is because majority of its male population is circumcised.
"Male circumcision is a very effective way of stopping HIV transmission to men," she said.
Kiragu noted that as the world is commemorating the World AIDS day, discussions should centre around empowering people and communities with information on HIV, testing and access to HIV related services.
She noted that when people are empowered, the country's fight against HIV/ AIDS will be accelerated and Uganda will be able to attain the 90-90-90 global target by 2020.
90-90-90 is an ambitious global treatment target to end the AIDS epidemic by 2020. It provides that by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.
Explaining Uganda's journey to achieving the target, Musoba said Uganda is on the right course.
"We have almost hit our target. The first 90 we are at 89%, the second one we are at 90% and the third 90 we have almost surpassed it. We are at 93%. We believe that by the time we evaluate by 2020 we will have achieved and even surpassed them," he said.
Philly Lutaaya lecture
Mbayo, also revealed that the inaugural Philly Bongoley Lutaaya memorial lecture will be held on Friday this week to recognize his efforts in the fight against stigma around HIV/AIDS.
The lecture, which will take place at the Imperial Royale Hotel, will be held under the theme ‘sustainability of Uganda's HIV and AIDS response beyond 2020'.
Mbayo, noted that lecture is in recognition of Lutaaya's selfless effort in breaking the stigma and discrimination around HIV/AIDS.
The keynote speaker at the lecture will be Dr. Alex Countinho, an experienced Global Health leader who has practiced medicine and public health in Africa for the last 35 years.