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New case of Ebola strikes Uganda

One killed by deadly fever, population takes measures to prevent its spread.

President Yoweri Museveni launched Uganda’s first HIV/AIDS control scheme in 1987. The program aggressively educated the public about how to avoid conracting HIV.

The campaign focused on the ABC approach — Abstain, Be faithful, use Condoms. In addition, work at the grass-roots level also began with peer education about HIV. During this government intervention the HIV infection rate fell from a peak in 1991 of 15 percent of all Ugandan adults (both urban and rural) to around 5 percent in 2001. This rate remained stable until 2006 when an increase in HIV prevalence was detected. The prevalence rose to 6.5 percent in 2009.

Recent studies say there are an estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV in Uganda, which includes 150,000 children. The statistics show an estimated 64,000 Ugandans died from AIDS in 2009 and 1.2 million children have been orphaned.

Uganda’s increased HIV infection rate “is mainly among married couples aged 30 to 40 years,” acccording to Dr. Shaban Mugerwa, a senior medical officer at the Aids Control Program,

UNAIDS Uganda office concurs. They say the rise in HIV prevalence is accompanied by an increase in multiple concurrent partnerships. There has been a shift in the epidemic from people in single casual relationships to those in long-term stable relationships.

Heterosexuals hold the highest rates of HIV infection across Africa, including Uganda.

According to UNAIDS, of the 1.2 million Ugandans living with HIV only 200,413 are on antiretroviral treatment, only 39 percent of all those in need.

Musa Bungudu of UNAIDS, blames the Ugandan government and local charities for too much talking and not enough ‘doing’ of the grass-roots work that is needed to slow infection.

"Uganda used to be a model country in the struggle against HIV/AIDS," said Bungudu. "However, HIV/AIDS is being commercialized. We have many workshops and conferences, which are mostly held in Kampala."

Uganda receives (annually) more than $320 million for HIV/AIDS control and treatment from the USA.

Dr. Mugerwa is calling for an urgent intervention and for new communication campaigns to send out a clear message about the rise of HIV/AIDS in Uganda. He also wants to focus on male circumcision. Studies show that circumcision among African men reduces the risk of HIV infection by up to 60 percent.

According to the Uganda Ministry of Health, the Museveni government is developing a new strategy for the fight against HIV/AIDS.