As Uganda joins the rest of the World to commemorate World Aids Day today, Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC), has warned that the country is still registering high level of new HIV/AIDS infections among the youth in the country.
While addressing the press, Dr Christine Ondoa, the UAC Director General, said with around 570 new HIV infections being registered every week among the youth aged between 15 and 25 years, the country is losing the gains it had registered while fighting the disease. She stressed that the country has fallen behind South Africa, becoming the second country with the highest number of new infections on the continent.
Currently, about 890,000 patients in the country are on treatment provided by government and its partners, the US government and Global Fund. According to the new guidelines, all HIV-infected individuals will now be eligible for antiretroviral treatment upon diagnosis regardless of the disease stage or the CD-4 CELL count.
HIV/AIDS was first noticed in Uganda in 1982, in Rakai District. The disease was strange at the time and was initially associated with witchcraft. Symptoms included diarrhoea, skin rashes and extreme weight loss and hence the disease was called Slim (literary meaning weight loss).
There were no medicines to treat HIV/AIDS at the time and contracting the disease condemned one to death. In late 1990’s, Anti retroviral drugs were introduced, to try and combat the disease. These were reserved for the severely immunosuppressed with CD4 less than 200cells/nl.
Treatment of HIV/AIDS has involved over the years.
The Government of Uganda has rolled out the test and treat policy. All that test HIV positive should start immediately on ARVs. The earlier you start ARVs the better the outcome.
Early initiation of ARVs is one of the many steps of preventing the spread of the virus. However, the only way sure way of avoiding infection is Though Abstinence & faithfulness.
Recent studies indicate there are more new HIV infections among the married couples than the rest. The idea is to be faithful to one another. Fishermen, long distance truck drivers, prostitutes are amongst the high risk groups.
Studies hv also shown that there is significant knowledge about prevention of HIV in Uganda. Behaviour change is therefore key in prevention.