15 July 2008

Another war in Northern Uganda




As the LRA war gains momentum to end, we are yet faced with another war and this time it is no longer using expensive weapons but the simple so called love or lust. Although recent figures indicates that in the northern region the HIV prevalence rate is 8.3 % while the county figures is at 6.4 % , HIV is posing serious threat to human life in Northern Uganda. Recently Northern Uganda Malaria AIDS and Tuberculosis (NUMAT) in partnership with World Vision organized a sensitization workshop for clergy of the Diocese of Northern Uganda. During the workshop participants were asked to change their attitudes towards HIV and AIDS and avoid stigmatizing those who are found to be HIV positive. For some years now the Abstinence, Be faithful and Condom (ABC) strategy have been applied with some commendable results. But the Church’s position is that Condom can not be advocated for, may be the church should rethink. Another strategy adapted is Safer practices, Access to treatment, Voluntary counseling and testing and Empowerment (SAVE). The biggest challenge in Northern Uganda is access to treatment, even those who are living with AIDS finds it extremely difficult to first of all afford the antiretroviral drugs. According to Dr. Alex Coutinho who was one of the facilitator, the key drivers of HIV epidemic in Uganda 2007 are:-

• Narrow messaging
• Ignorance of HIV status
• Multiple concurrent partnerships
• Discordant relationships
• Lack of circumcision
• Urbanization
• Conflict
• Gender disparities in “bedroom empowerment”

When it comes to prevention, the vulnerable are key BUT important groups to target include:
MEN – who control most prevention decisions, HIV+ - to practice POSITIVE PREVENTION, GLOBAL LEADERS – to keep investing in current and future prevention approaches.
PUBLIC – to keep advocating for more prevention investments.
The next step after this workshop is for World Vision to sign Memorandum of Understanding with the Diocese of Northern Uganda, thereafter work together in this struggle. Your contribution is most welcome.

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