THE Government is puzzled as to why the HIV prevalence rates in the country are shooting up. It now stands at 7.3% when it was 6.4% only six years ago.
The Uganda AIDS Indicator Survey tells us that women are hit hardest with their prevalence rate increasing from 7.5% to 8.3%.
The Government has attributed the upward prevalence trend largely to promiscuity. Is the Government telling us Ugandans are more promiscuous today than they were six years ago? Isn't the problem much deeper than that?
I believe Uganda's efforts to fight the pandemic took a reverse direction when prevention messages got mixed up with an emphasis on morality and blame.
There has been more emphasis on abstinence-only and a reduced emphasis on the use of condoms, alleging that they simply promote promiscuity.
However, the campaigns on abstinence-only that underplay and even discourage condom use are not only dangerous, they are also hypocritical.
At core in the strategies to address the rates of prevalence is taking a hard look at the phenomenon of sexuality.
Thus, Uganda needs to take the virus by the horns. There are many different ways in which current policy on addressing HIV is inadequate.
First of all, the continued criminalisation of adult consensual sexual activities only helps in heightening stigma and fuelling the pandemic. We need to acknowledge that sexual minorities are very much an integral part of our 'sexual networks'.
Secondly, it is also necessary that the Government seriously addresses the gender and human rights aspects of sexuality and HIV/ AIDS. It is not by accident that women are taking the brunt of the epidemic.
The higher prevalence of HIV among Ugandan women is directly linked to the power imbalances between men and women in society; violence against women, especially rape and incest; the reproductive role of women in society; and the cultural/legal discrimination and exploitation that women continue to suffer.