For Immediate Release:November 22 2018
Alliance of Women Advocating for Change • Sexual Minorities Uganda • Health GAP WONETHA • Uganda Harm Reduction Network • International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS Eastern Africa • Transgender Equality Uganda • Uganda Network on Law Ethics and HIV/AIDS (UGANET)
HIV Organizations Decry “Political Interference” with HIV Response in Uganda.
Civil society organizations today strongly condemned action by the Government of Uganda during Uganda’s “HIV Prevention Symposium,” a national meeting called to explore progress and challenges in HIV prevention in Uganda, organized by the Uganda AIDS Commission.
The Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Simon Lokodo, intervened and instructed organizers to bar key populations from directly describing their work, and the priorities of key populations such as men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who use drugs, and transgender people. This came despite the fact that the government itself had organized the meeting and approved the agenda.
“The government rhetoric on Uganda’s close achievement of the 90-90-90 goals is out of touch with the reality of key populations, who are on the front-line of the HIV epidemic as those most affected by HIV,”said Kyomya Macklean, Executive Director, Alliance of Women Advocating for Change (AWAC).
“The continued political interference in the HIV response in Uganda is greatly affecting those who need to be reached like my community, the key populations,” said Richard Lusimbo, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) Acting Programmes Director. “I am greatly saddened that our voices as key populations are being silenced at a critical time when we need to work together to reach everyone.”
The organizations argued that such actions are contributing negatively to disease outcomes in a country where 950 new HIV infections are happening every week and the HIV prevention response is off-track. The organizations called on government to immediately stop undermining an evidence-based and human rights affirming HIV response.
“We call for bold steps to ensure that the rights of all Ugandans including key populations to access HIV prevention, treatment, social support and protection is ensured,” said Margaret Happy of ICW Eastern Africa.
The activists noted with concern that the Global Fund has just granted $10 million in funding to Uganda for responding to human rights barriers to the HIV response, targeted at support to key populations. “Will the Global Fund hold Uganda accountable for delivering real impact on disease outcomes, on overcoming human rights barriers, and on silencing attacks on key populations?” asked Lilian Mworeko, Director of ICW Eastern Africa.
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