By Daniel Edyegu
ABOUT 360 Ugandans contract HIV daily, Dr. Godfrey Esiru of the health ministry has said.
Speaking at the launch of the â€˜Be A Real Manâ€™ campaign by the Mamaâ€™s Club at Malukhu grounds in Mbale district, Esiru said the HIV/AIDS prevalence was steadily rising, despite concerted efforts by the international community, civil society and the Government to fight it.
Esiru, the manager of the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) project, stated that over 130,000 new infections are registered annually.
â€œThis means each day, about 360 people contract the virus that causes AIDS daily and four new infections are registered in each district per day. It shows HIV/AIDS is once again becoming a threat. We are receiving information that infection is on the rise in some districts,â€ Esiru said.
He observed that the main form of transmission remains unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected person, followed by mother to child transmission at birth, among other causes.
He noted that out of 100 new infections, 80 are through unprotected sexual intercourse with infected persons, 15 through mother to child transmission.
Another cause is getting in to contact with blood of an infected person during accidents or in the case of medical personnel, during surgery.
â€œThe rise in new infections is mainly due to the high poverty levels in the country that have prompted people to engage in prostitution, cross-generation sex (sex between older people and young adults) and high risk sexual behaviour especially among people on anti-retroviral drugs.
â€œThe other cause is extra marital sex among married people, which accounts for 60% of new infections.â€
He explained that although the current HIV prevalence rate stood at 6.4% according to a 2000 study, the figure is expected to rise in an ongoing study that will be concluded next year.
Esiru added that whereas the prevalence was relatively high in urban areas in the past, the virus had spread out.
He said out of over 1 million people living with the virus in Uganda, women bore the highest prevalence rate at 6.5%, while the children are at 0.7%. He added that of the 500,000 who are supposed to access anti-retroviral treatment, only 50% are on drugs due to inadequate funds.
Mama Clubâ€™s Lydia Mungherera explained that the campaign was aimed at stepping up male involvement in PMTCT services.