7 June 2017

Uganda: Museveni Outlines New Plan to End HIV/Aids

Photo: Daily Monitor
President Yoweri Museveni, who also signed a commitment to end HIV/Aids by 2030, said the fight against HIV in the country has regressed because the Uganda Aids Commission has failed to provide information to the population on how to prevent the epidemic.

Kampala — President Museveni yesterday launched an ambitious five-point plan to end HIV/Aids in the country by 2030 with the main focus on voluntary testing for men.

"I am now calling upon all men, all of you to go for voluntary testing... if you find you are sick (positive), take the drugs. They will not cure you but when the virus is suppressed you will live longer and not infect others," President Museveni said while delivering his speech at an event held in Kampala yesterday.

Mr Museveni's remarks were triggered by Uganda Demographic and Health survey 2016 which indicated that 60 per cent of the men in Uganda had tested to know their HIV status compared to 83 per cent of the women.

Code named; "Presidential fast-track initiative on HIV and Aids in Uganda," the blueprint indicates that government will engage men in HIV prevention to close the gap on new infections particularly among adolescent girls and young women.

The face of Aids-related deaths in Uganda is that of men whose health-seeking behaviour results in low uptake of testing, prevention and treatment services.

Fifty-two per cent of men are currently on antiretroviral treatment therapy (ART).

The plan also seeks to consolidate the progress registered on the elimination of mother-to-child transmission and accelerate implementation of the test and treat.

Under this plan, Uganda intends to attain 90-90-90 targets particularly among men and young people.

The Unaids 90-90-90 target calls on countries to ensure that 90 per cent of people living with HIV diagnosed by 2020, 90 per cent of diagnosed people are put on antiretroviral treatment and 90 per cent of people on treatment have fully suppressed viral load by 2020.

Also Uganda has only made tangible progress on reducing the number of children born with HIV by 80 per cent, it has failed to have young male adults tested yet they keep infecting the young adolescent girls aged 15-24.

Mr Museveni, who also signed a commitment to end HIV/Aids by 2030, said the fight against HIV in the country has regressed because the Uganda Aids Commission has failed to provide information to the population on how to prevent the epidemic.

President Museveni said when HIV/Aids was first reported in Uganda in 1983, knew the disease was simple and worked with Uganda doctors to devise means of addressing it.

"The mistake has been with Uganda Aids Commission. They don't know what to talk and l also don't know what they do and that is the problem," he added.

Uganda, whose experience had inspired many countries, registered a sharp rise in prevalence from 6.4 per cent in 2005 to 7.3 per cent in 2011, an indication that an epidemic can rebound if the "foot is taken off the pedal."

However, the President admitted that he is also to blame for having believed that the Aids Commission was doing its work in promoting the various HIV prevention interventions, including the earlier ABC Strategy, which stands for Abstinence, faithfulness among couples and Condom use.

Instead, the President said he was being briefed by Mr Michel Sidibe, the executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and Aids (Unaids) on the new the new developments on HIV prevention and care like the 90-90-90 targets.

Mr Sidibe said the new commitment by President Museveni will bolster the fight against the epidemic and Uganda will be able to end the epidemic by 2030.

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