10 September 2012

Uganda: HIV-Positive Children Want Seat in Parliament

Children affected and infected with HIV/AIDS are calling for a special representative in parliament to express their problems and also lobby for their needs.

Petitioning parliament recently, the children aged between 8, 11, 15, and above, said their representative in parliament should be a youth living with HIV and above 18 years.

"On behalf of all the children of Uganda, who are affected and infected with HIV/AIDS we request that this is implemented for an HIV free generation," said Paul Namanya one of the petitioners.

The children said; "Many of us have acquired HIV/AIDS through defilement, we are sexually abused by people in our communities and our own parents and relatives who go unpunished even when we report".

Presenting their petition to the deputy speaker of parliament, Jacob Oulanyah one of the children Catherine Nakidde said: "Our family members discriminate against us, they don't want to eat with us, they tell us that we are useless because we are HIV positive".

The children said at many occasions they are denied a chance to express themselves even when they know what to say adding that with a representative in parliament, they will be able to air their concerns.

They noted that most of their concerns are not listened to especially by step mothers among other relatives.

"Most times we don't eat on time, yet we are taking medicine. We don't get enough food to eat because our parents and caretakers are poor," said Catherine Nakidde.

The children urged government through the ministry of education to address the issue of stigma in schools where HIV positive children are looked at as people with no future by fellow students and teachers.

The children under the care of national council for children also asked government to address what they called the unfriendly HIV/AIDS services at health centers saying they don't get good counseling services since much attention is only paid to HIV adult patients.

According to the secretary National council for children, Martin Kiiza, a lot of attention has focused on tackling HIV/AIDS in adults but little attention has been paid to addressing AIDS among children.

Approximately 150,000 children in Uganda are living with HIV/AIDS but only 41% are able to access antiretroviral therapy compared to 61% in adults.

However deputy speaker Oulanyah urged the children to stick to their medications so as to live long.

"We pray that a cure will be found, but before that please stick to your medications. A Program to sustain those infected should be encouraged until a cure for HIV is found," Oulanyah said.

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