18 December 2012

Uganda: President Alerts Youth About HIV/Aids

Photo: Aphaluck Bhatiasevi/WHO
The health sector played a key role despite numerous challenges in the year 2012.

President Museveni has made a disturbing revelation that HIV prevalence rates in some parts of the country stand at 41%, a figure that more than double the officially stated statistics.

Speaking at the enthronement of Anglican Archbishop Stanley Ntagali on Sunday, Museveni urged church leaders to focus on the fight against HIV/Aids in their work

"HIV/Aids is going up again, in some places 41% of people have HIV," he said. "Please let's go back to our message of alerting the young people about this problem. I appeal to you to use the pulpit to save our children."

Ntagali's Catholic and Orthodox counterparts, Dr Cyprian Kizito and Jonah Lwanga, respectively, were in attendance.

"In 1986 when we came out of the bush, HIV prevalence was high, yet we have 85% Christians, 12% Muslims and only 2% non-believers. This meant the message wasn't going through," he said.

"When we intervened with our political action of preaching ABC on rallies, the prevalence came down dramatically."

The president attributed the sudden rise to misinformation, "because we succeeded, new confusion came in with all sorts of messages."

Until recently, HIV prevalence rates had stagnated at 6.4%; but it is now estimated at 7.3%. The President, however, commended religious leaders for the consistent stand against homosexuality. He noted that even in the past, homosexuals were not persecuted, although the practice was not promoted.

"The homosexuals weren't persecuted, [or] killed. Some of them even did good work but at the same time, they weren't promoted. Sexual matters even of heterosexuals are confidential," he said before adding: "The issue now is promotion as if it's a good thing; that one, we will not accept."

In his speech, Archbishop Ntagali promised to fight vices like homosexuality, defilement, child sacrifice and domestic violence as well as divorce and corruption.

"These and many other evils have affected the spiritual lives of our people," he said. "We need to revive our people's commitment to God in order to be committed to him and to be responsible citizens."

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