30 November 2012

Uganda: ARVs May Help People Live Longer But...


According to the 2011 demographic and health survey, majority Ugandans are knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS, modes of HIV transmission, testing, counselling and how to live positively.

Yet in the same breath, the HIV prevalence rate is not decreasing.

Uganda has consistently created awareness through campaigns that has shown a tremendous impact in terms of people embracing HIV prevention methods. So as we celebrate World AIDS Day, we need to ask ourselves, how are we facing HIV as an individual, as partners, parents, leaders and what must we do to change the course of trends for the better.

HIV remains one of the world's most significant health challenges, especially in developing countries. An estimated 1.8 million people die every year from the disease.

However, due to advances in access to anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs), people living with HIV have a longer life span. ARV therapy prevents the virus from multiplying in the body. In Uganda, the availability of ARVs has not only changed the way people think about HIV, but also their lifestyles.

People living with the virus are now facing it head on and seizing their second chance at life. However, we should also think of preventing HIV transmission by abstaining, being faithful to one sexual partner and getting tested regularly.

So as we work towards this, we must ensure that we face HIV by achieving the following goals.

Sexual transmission of HIV should be reduced by half.

HIV mother-to-child transmission should be reduced by half by taking precaution during pregnancy through antenatal care.

TB deaths among people living with HIV should be reduced by half.

In addition, all people living with HIV and households affected by the disease should have access to essential care and support.

But the good news is that we have seen a slight reduction in HIV infections among the youth. We should uphold this trend by continuously engaging the youth to lead their peers in the fight against HIV.

If this can be achieved, then in the next decade we shall have an HIV-free generation.

The writer is a public health communication specialist

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