Despite the fact that there are an estimated 1.4 million people in Uganda living with HIV we continue to face many barriers that make it difficult for us to end HIV in Uganda by 2030. Some of these include the many political and cultural barriers which have hindered effective HIV prevention programming in Uganda. As a result, new HIV infections are expected to rise in coming years. There are still many people living with HIV who do not have access to the medicines they need and thosPe who have access to these medicines may not have the required nutritional supplements which makes adherence to medication an issue. The punitive laws and stigmatizing attitudes towards men who have sex with men, sex workers, and people who inject drugs has meant that these groups most vulnerable to infection are far less likely to engage with HIV services.
Our Executive Director Dr Frank Mugisha says “We appreciate all the partners, Who have worked so hard to include Key Populations in HIV/AIDS programming. We call upon the Ugandan government to remove all discriminatory laws if we are to achieve the goal to end AIDS.”
Why do we need to engage the community in the fight against HIV?
- To fight stigma. Stigmatization of people living with HIV has made it a daunting task for people to go and test for HIV so they can go for early treatment.
- To encourage testing and treatment. We need to involve the community if we are to have more people testing and those found to be positive should be supported by the community to begin immediate treatment.
- To encourage adherence. Adherence to drugs is important and one simply cannot do this alone unless they are supported by friends and family to go for treatment and take their medicine as advised by their doctor. When one can take medication in public without fear of being stigmatized, it helps them take their medication on time without any shame.
- Promote Undetectable = Untransmissable. When a person is living with HIV and is on effective treatment, it lowers the level of HIV the viral load in the blood. When the levels are low it is referred to as an undetectable viral load. This is also medically known as virally suppressed. At this stage, HIV cannot be passed on sexually. We need the community to support those under medication to adhere so we can achieve this goal by 2030.