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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Reduced funding for Sex Education in Schools led to increased new HIV infections says AIDS Commission Boss

By Esther Nakkazi

We have heard from Prof Vinand Nantulya, the Chairman of the Uganda Aids Commission (UAC) as one of the key presenters that Uganda’s HIV new infections have been going up, nothing new, but one of the reasons is due to the vulnerability of young women, which he says is getting worse.

Makerere University Walter Reed Project (MUWRP) is holding its stakeholders meeting in Kampala with a theme; ‘Mitigating disease threats of Public Health Importance: 13 years of MUWRP in Uganda’.

UAC estimates that 380 new HIV infections occur in Uganda daily or 138,700 annually, added to the already 1.6 million people living with HIV making Uganda the third leading contributor of new HIV infections in Africa after Nigeria and South Africa.

UNAIDS estimates that 48% of all new infections worldwide are from Uganda, South Africa and Nigeria and 10 percent of these are from Uganda.

What UAC has done is to try and have messages targeted to this age group improved and monitored. All AIDS/HIV public messages to the Ugandan media have to go through the UAC clearing house to ensure that they are consistent and accurate.

Another issue that Prof Nantulya would like to see restored is education about HIV in schools that would help this particular group, the young people vulnerability is getting worse as they get lured into sexual activities.

But then the PIASCY project which stands for Presidential Initiative on AIDS Strategy for Communication to Youth that was funded by USAID and was helpful to this age group was stopped. Funding is almost no more for this PIASCY project.

Over 50 percent of Uganda’s population, which is below18 years and are in school would benefit from this education. But they are not anymore.

At the MUWRP stakeholders meeting today Prof Nantulya has said “the PIASCY programme, which was good and helpful to educate the youth is not as good as it used to be. I want the PIASCY programme back.”

I am not sure why USAID stopped or reduced funding for this component of educating the youth about HIV but for sure it is one of the reasons, maybe that, new infections are going up among the youth in Uganda. More on this topic will be investigated.

Dr. Anthony Mbonye, the commissioner for community health services at Uganda's Health Ministry gave the key note address emphasising that an HIV vaccine is still needed to fight HIV and hailed MUWRP’s contribution to these efforts.

Dr. Hannah Kibuuka, executive Director, MUWRP also the research site Principal Investigator has given us an overview of their activities and taken us through their contribution towards a safe and effective HIV vaccine.

Chris Baryomunsi, the state minister for health and Dr. Francis Kiweewa a researcher at MUWRP decried the low use of condoms among the public.


ends.


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