As published by Chimpreports on December 1st 2019
As Uganda joins the World to commemorate World Aids Day, which happens every 1st of December, citizens are urged to spearhead the fight against HIV/Aids if Uganda is to meet the target of no new infections by 2020.
Dr Jennifer Nabukenya Ssengoobe, a medical doctor teaching at MildMay, said that there is a need for communities to give support to vulnerable groups like female sex workers, gay people, and women living in fishing communities that are highly susceptible to HIV/Aids by encouraging them to use protection.
“One sexual worker can cause 1000 new infections in one year. But if they are encouraged to use condoms or go for testing to know their status without shaming them, then a lot of other people could be saved. The person you are shaming today could end up sleeping with your husband or son, which in the end could make you a victim too. It is important that we understand them and give support instead of segregating against them”, Dr Nabukenya said. She further urged the government to make it compulsory for all bars and hotels to put condoms in all their washrooms and resting rooms so that they are easily accessible in case of emergency sex. This is in line with this year’s global theme: communities make the difference and we need to engage young people to champion the end of new HIV infections.
Dr Nabukenya was speaking at a community sensitization event organised by Uganda Clays in partnership with Minet Uganda Insurance Broker at the Uganda Clays production plant in Kajiansi Wakiso District. The event was organised to sensitise and educate young employees and the surrounding communities and give support to people living with Aids from the same area. As part of the campaign, community members received free HIV/Aids testing and counselling and medical check ups for blood pressure, BML, blood sugars and cancer. The attendees also listened and enjoyed educative entertainment on community HIV/Aids and listened to messages on positive living from community heads and officials from the two companies.
Speaking at the event, Jenipher Male, Minet Uganda said engaging communities in the fight against HIV/Aids new transmission is crucial because the HIV/Aids challenge is no longer an individual issue but a community problem because of its spill over effect. “If you segregate against an HIV patient, and make them uncomfortable to the extent that they do not seek treatment, they will end up affecting more people in communities and each of us could be a potential victim. “I urge all companies to put in place HIV/Aids friendly policies that encourage free testing and positive living”, Male said.
Peter Kiwanuka, the Human Resource Manager at Uganda Clays said the company occasionally organizes health sensitization events and camps for its workers because they are mainly youth that are vulnerable to diseases especially HIV/Aids but also because the company understands that a health Community is a productive one. “At Uganda Clays, we have a no discrimination policy on HIV status. We also believe that we have the power to prevent new HIV transmissions/infections if we openly talk about these issues within the community” he said.
The youths between 15 and 24 years of age are responsible for 34% of the new infections globally which makes them the most important target group for such sensitization sessions. Worldwide there are about 37.9m living with HIV/Aids, an increase from 24.9m in 2000. In Uganda, about 1.5m people are HIV positive. This means that there are new infections which beat the global goals of Zero new infections by 2020.