PIC: Fishermen out on a routine fishing expedition on the waters of Lake Victoria off Kimi Island. (Credit: Oyet Okwera)
MUKONO - Fishermen operating on the island of Kimi in Mukono district have been cautioned against having sex with multiple partners to reduce their chances of contracting the HIV virus.
Relatedly, they were also warned against taking too much alcohol, with the argument that drunkenness and sexual desire are somewhat linked.
The warning came from Koome LC3 chairman Lawrence Kiyingi (pictured below) during the commemoration of the International Aids Virus Day held at the island and organized by Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) and International Virus Research Institute (IAVI).
Kiyingi said there is need to increase awareness related to prevention of the HIV virus by organizing more seminars and outreach programmes.
According to him, fishermen believe that water is more dangerous than HIV/Aids, a reason they engage with many sexual partners as a way to spend their money.
Kiyingi said: Out of the 19 Islands in Koome, Kimi alone has a 20% prevalence of HIV/Aids according to records at Koome Health Centre III. This trend is worrying and I call upon all stakeholders to help reduce this prevalence."
According to records available at Uganda Aids Commission (AIC), HIV/Aids prevalence within fishing communities stands at 18%-33%.
Leslie Nielsen (pictured below with a mic), Director Regional Partnership at IAVI, said fishermen need to be advised on saving.
Nielsen believes their attitude of spending all the money is fuelling prostitution within fishing communities.
"Let us find ways of encouraging the fishermen to save their money through encouraging some financial institutions to position themselves within these islands. I believe many of them will have a transformed mind if they begin saving their money," she said.
Dr. Ali Ssetaala, head of community studies with URVI and IAVI, said one of the approaches is encouraging voluntary testing to ascertain one’s HIV status.
A resident airs a point during the function. (Credit: Oyet Okwera)
The challenge is that many men are not coming out to openly declare their status, he said.
With increased community engagement, he added, the number of men appreciating HIV testing is increasing. At least four out of 10 men can voluntarily come out to know their HIV status which Ssetaala said is commendable.
He also encouraged the women to often move with their husbands for antenatal as a requirement by most health facilities across the country.