Uganda: HIV Infection Rate in Lira Drops

Blood samples to test viral load (file photo).

Lira — The HIV infection rate in Lira District has dropped by 1.8 per cent between 2014 and 2019, from 8.9 per cent to 7.1 per cent, according to new estimates from the district health department.

Dr Patrick Ocen Buchan, the district health officer, attributed what he termed as "good progress" in the fight against HIV/Aids to the ongoing health education and regular community sensitisation by both development partners and the district.

"The prevalence rate of HIV has been very high in Lira, which makes part of northern Uganda, mainly because of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency," Dr Ocen told Daily Monitor in an interview last Friday.

He, however, said the battle against HIV/Aids and malaria would only be won if all stakeholders played their role well.

Hot spots

Areas that are still being considered hot spots in terms of new HIV infections include; bars, bus parks, Juba Road, Kitgum stage, and Amach Cattle Market.

"In these hot spots, we have tried our level best to fight the disease through various interventions but HIV is still escalating," Dr Ochen said.

Dr Ocen said malaria was also no longer a major threat to the more than 400,000 people living in Lira.

The Lango Cultural Foundation prime minister, Dr Richard Nam, said cultural leaders have been educating their subjects on HIV/Aids prevention methods.

"Why there are still some cases of HIV/Aids infections, is the low use of condoms. People practice risky sexual behaviours. But as an institution, we have educated several youth in Lango on HIV/Aids prevention," Dr Nam said.

Efforts towards Aids prevention

In June 2017, President Museveni 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 in Kampala.

His 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.

However, 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.

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