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World AIDS Day: President Museveni urges Ugandans, especially Men to embrace testing for HIV/AIDS

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World AIDS Day: President Museveni urges Ugandans, especially Men to embrace testing for HIV/AIDS

The HIV prevalence in Uganda reduced to 5.4% in 2020 from 18% in the ’80s. 1.4 million People are Living with HIV and of these 1.2 million are on treatment. 

There are about 37.7 million People who are Living with HIV Globally, 1.5 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2020 alone, 73% of adults living with HIV received Lifelong Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) and 680,000 people died from HIV-related illness. 

The development was revealed by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, during the commemoration of World AIDS Day, today Wednesday 1st December 2021 at Kololo Independence Grounds.

In his speech, the president noted that the main message for young people remains abstinence to focus on their studies until they are old enough and prepared to face the world.

He added that Parents are the foundation of their families and their children depend on them for safety and well-being.

“Parents should, therefore, spend quality time with your children; setting an example for them to follow, equipping the children with skills on how to deal with peer pressure, understanding and discussing unique needs of your children, creating an enabling environment at home to freely discuss issues and supporting them to complete school,” the president said. 

Museveni also applauded leaders of various categories but especially leaders of faith for guiding their congregations, and encouraged them to continue with the same efforts of providing clear and accurate information to those who come to places of worship about how to prevent themselves from acquiring HIV. “These communication campaigns worked for us before and should be used even now. “

According to the president, Uganda, like other countries, has had to deal with the double jeopardy of HIV/AIDS and the COVID 19 pandemic. COVID 19 rapidly spread across continents bringing with it death, disruptions in the national and global economy as well as disruptions in social life. 

For a long time, he said, Uganda’s HIV response has benefited from donor support and he thanked all donors for their generosity and support.

However, he noted that donor support has been reducing with competing priorities. Uganda has been prioritizing the HIV responses and allocated additional funds especially towards the purchase of antiretroviral drugs whose budget has doubled over the last couple of years. 

“I have been informed that men continue to die more because they delay to go for HIV testing and hence often start on treatment late. I encourage men to go and test for HIV and if found positive will be counseled and started on treatment. If found negative they will be told how to avoid acquiring HIV” he said. 

Adding that behavior change is still key in the fight against HIV/AIDS and that Ugandans should continue to disseminate information on abstinence, being faithful and correct, and consistent condom use to prevent HIV. In addition, he says there should be an increase in knowledge on the benefits of HIV testing, treatment, and drug adherence as the pathway to viral suppression. 

“As we commemorate this day, let us remember that everyone has a role to play in preventing HIV/AIDS. It is not only a job for the government leaders or the health professionals. As a father, mother, community member, leader, activist, in whatever capacity you may be, it is only when we join hands together in solidarity and share the responsibility that we will End AIDS as a public health threat by 2030” he noted. 

The president also urged local leaders to guide their communities to dialogue and reflect on community-owned solutions and pay particular attention to eliminating poverty and creating wealth because these are key underlying factors for HIV acquisition. Conscious efforts should be geared on how to reach the young generation with messages through the use of social media.

HIV testing is the gateway to accessing treatment. When a person with HIV is identified early, they are put on treatment early and if they adhere to the treatment, they will achieve viral suppression making them less likely to transmit HIV. This will contribute greatly to helping our Country achieve the goal of ending AIDS by 2030 and also our vision 2040. “I, therefore, urge all Ugandans to test for HIV because treatment is available. 

This is my key message to Ugandans to remain committed to ending AIDS in this country.”

  1. Young people don’t be in hurry to have sex, there are many consequences that you will not be in position to handle. You should first focus on your education and prepare well to manage your families in future. 
  2. I urge the men not to live reckless lifestyles. Be responsible for your lives, your partners and your families.
  3. Women have done well. You should continue to seek health care. If you are pregnant, go to a health facility so that the health workers can test you and if you are HIV positive they will support you not to infect your baby. If you are negative, protect yourself against HIV infection.
  4. Religious leaders and Cultural leaders talk to your people. Use every opportunity to remind people to be responsible. They should avoid risky sexual behaviors, they should test and know their status and if HIV positive they should access treatment.
  5. To all Ugandans, avoid stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV. It shows lack of information to discriminate against people living with HIV because this only escalates the problem. 
  6. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to ensure that no child is born with HIV, no person gets infected with HIV, no person dies due to AIDS related illness and there is no discrimination against People Living with HIV. Like our theme for today, let us end stigma, end AIDS and end pandemics.

“I take this opportunity to thank the Uganda AIDS Commission for coordinating the commemoration of this World AIDS Day. I thank the Development partners and all stakeholders who are supporting us in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Please continue with the struggle, we shall conquer this virus. Lastly, I continue to remind all Ugandans that COVID -19 is still here, therefore, go to the nearest health centre and get vaccinated. Wear your mask every time you are amidst other people, wash your hands with soap and keep a social distance” Mr. Museveni concluded.

This year’s commemoration is under the theme “End inequalities. End AIDS”.

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