KAMPALA- President Yoweri Museveni has said the fight against HIV/Aids in the country has stagnated because of laxity by many Ugandans, whom he said no longer care about testing and knowing their status.
Speaking at the launch of the Presidential Fast-Track initiative for ending HIV/Aids by 2030 in Isingiro District, western Uganda, on Friday, the President said many people think that methods such as safe male circumcision are enough to prevent the deadly disease and have remained having unprotected sex.
Mr Museveni, however, emphasized that the first approach is prevention.
“Living on drugs is not good for they have grave side effects on one’s body. Taking drugs is better than dying; you stay longer and you are able to look after your children to grow. But why do you want to get sick so that you get medication? The original message was to avoid contracting HIV. But in case you are unlucky and you get it, don’t hide it and infect other people, go for ARVs,” he said.
The President urged those who don’t know their HIV status to go for testing and for those who are positive to immediately start using the prescribed drugs.
He said taking drugs would help them live longer and be able to look after their dependents, and in the long run stop infecting their sexual partners.
“When you take ARVs, the virus load goes down so much that you can’t infect even if you are careless and you don’t use the condom,” Mr. Museveni said.
He said with all the interventions, including Elimination of Mother To Child Transmission and efforts by government and its partners, it is anticipated that by 2030, the disease will be wiped out.
The chairman Uganda Local Government Association, Mr. Patrick Besigye Keihwa, lauded government for the establishment of AIDS Trust Fund, saying it will boost domestic efforts to eliminate AIDS.
“We want to thank you (President) together with the Parliament of Uganda for championing the establishment of AIDS Trust Fund. Since the establishment, there has been good progress towards the operationalization of this Fund. Just two weeks ago, Parliament passed the regulations and made a recommendation for allocation of funds,” Mr Keihwa said.
He added, “The country now awaits the Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development to release the first commitment of seed funding and so stimulate move investment for increased domestic financing to end AIDS.
The national HIV prevalence rate is at 6 percent, according to the 2016 Uganda Population HIV Impact Assessment Survey released by the Ministry of Health.
The fast-tracking initiative, launched at the national level in 2017, is intended to accelerate the fight against the epidemic, rekindle the campaign against the scourge and remind people about the HIV threat.
The five-point plan to eliminate HIV/AIDS by 2030 are: Engage men in HIV prevention and close the tap on new infections particularly among the adolescent girls and young women; accelerate implementation of test and treat and attainment of 90-90-90 targets particularly among men and young people; consolidate progress on eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV; ensure financial sustainability for HIV response, and ensure institutional effectiveness for a well-coordinated multispectral response.