Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has warned the youth to take their lives seriously in face of the HIV/Aids disease which he said is killing 17,000 Ugandans every year, adding that a UN report has indicated that girls are four times more likely to be infected with HIV than their male counterparts.
Records from the Ministry of Health indicate that the increased infections in the country have been driven by multiple sexual partnerships as well as transactional sex, which the youth have been identified to be engaged in more.
The Covid-19 lockdown was also blamed for interfering with efforts to control the Aids epidemic when it disrupted outreach services and access to care, increasing the worry among the people that the Ebola restrictions currently in Mubende and Kassanda could lead to a spike in HIV infections in the two districts.
Museveni, who spoke during the World Aids Day celebrations held in Rukungiri, western Uganda, said the main cause of rising HIV infections now appears to be changed behaviour “where you do what you should not do”.
“I am really determined to insist on behavioural change,” the president said.
“Infections among young people (15-24 years) accounted for 37 percent of all the new HIV infections in the year 2021, with new infections occurring more among young girls compared to the boys in the same period,” said the Minister of the Presidency Milly Babalanda in a statement presented to Parliament ahead of the World Aids Day celebrations.
She said that over 1,000 Ugandans are infected with HIV every week and about 325 people die weekly from Aids-related causes, while statistics also indicate that infections are high among school-going age group.
1.4 million HIV patients
According Dr Nelson Musoba, the executive director of the Uganda Aids Commission, there are 1.4 million people living with HIV in Uganda and the country needs about $263 million to treat the patients annually.
Dr Musoba said that only $40 million is available for treatment of patients on retroviral therapy alone.
While lauding the US government for its continued support, President Museveni pledged more support for HIV/Aids treatment. He said treating one patient costs about $200 annually.
The US government, through the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR), has been providing funds in excess of $400 million for the provision of antiretroviral drugs to over one million Ugandans.