This year’s World AIDS Day will be marked in Rakai District at National level on 1 December,2023. The revelation was made by Dr. Nelson Musoba, while briefing Journalists at the Uganda Media Centre, in Kampala on Tuesday. He said Rakai District was the first part of Uganda to witness the HIV/AIDS scourge in the 1980s and the country shall not only mark the day by remembering those who lost their lives to HIV, but also awaken the present generation, on the need to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS virus.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter-Martin Luther King Jr. On the 1st of December, we shall join the world in commemorating World AIDS Day. A day when the world stands in solidarity with those who are living with HIV. The theme for this year’s celebrations is; Ending AIDS by 2030. Keeping Communities at the Centre. World AIDS Day will be commemorated in Rakai District in Kibaale Town Council at Kibaale Playground. His Excellency the President of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni will be the chief guest”, Dr. Musoba said in a statement.
He said Uganda Aids Commission acknowledges that the Country has made significant progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS by bringing down HIV prevalence from 18 percent in the 1980s to 5.2 percent.
“New infections have reduced to 52,000 annually from 94,000 and AIDS related deaths have reduced to 17,000 annually. There have been strategies that helped us to reach where we are now. Our success did not happen overnight”, he added.
He enumerated some of the most recent Government achievements to include; HIV Testing Services, where there was a 14.3 percent increase in the number of individuals tested in the general population from 5,998,431 in FY 2020/21 to 6,860,533 in FY 2022/23.
“A total 98 percent of the estimated 1,433,337 People were Living with HIV (PLHIV) as of December 2022 were enrolled on ART as of June 2023 which is 1,403,603.We acknowledge the exemplary leadership of our President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who steered the campaign to end AIDS even when there was no treatment in sight”, he pointed out
Dr. Stephen Watiti, the Chairperson, Uganda National Forum for People Living with HIV and an HIV activist, plus ardent advocate for improved and sustainable health for all, said a total of 1.4 million people in Uganda live with HIV/AIDS. He called upon Ugandans, especially youth to be at the forefront of fighting HIV and AIDS.
“Since the discovery of AIDS in Uganda nearly 40 years ago, it was the communities that took the patients to hospital, looked after them when others shunned them and cared for the widows and the orphans that they left behind. To date, it is these same communities that are on the frontline to ensure we end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030”, he said.
Dr. Watiti added that; the solidarity of the community of people living with HIV can be seen during the COVID 19- lockdown and the Ebola lockdowns in Mubende District and surrounding areas, where the community ensured that none of their members were affected during this difficult time.
“They ensured their most vulnerable members had access to food and their drugs. Communities of Religious leaders under their umbrella organization Inter Religious Council of Uganda provided and continue to provide psycho-social support to the HIV infected and affected persons”, he added.
Ms. Ruth Awore, the Executive Director of People Living with Aids, reiterated the need for communities to respect people living with HIV by not discriminating and subjecting them to stigmatization.
“Communities should design projects aimed at ending the spread of HIV. We also need to refrain from discriminating against HIV infected persons and all forms of stigmatization for people living with HIV”, she added.
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