Determined to realize Uganda’s goal to fast-track initiative on ending HIV/AIDS in Uganda by 2030, President Museveni has said it’s possible to totally end HIV/AIDS.
“Your Excellencies, I have been interacting with our experts from the Ministry of Health, UNAIDS and other health partners about HIV transmission and prevention. Using lessons from our own experience in Uganda, we are now convinced that it is possible to eliminate HIV/AIDS in its totality,” the President said.
He was speaking at a high level meeting on HIV/AIDS organised by UNAIDS and co-hosted by Uganda.
The President added that they are in a better position because they now clearly know its mode of transmission, availability of anti-retroviral therapy with an improved outcome and advanced research that has been able to answer most questions.
Museveni explained that research has shown that once you are on treatment, the chances of spreading the virus reduce.
“For this reason, I invited you to address these challenges that face our countries and find means of further strengthening our efforts,” he said.
The President and the First Lady Janet Museveni are in New York attending the 72nd United Nations General Assembly.
In June this year, President Museveni launched the Presidential Fast-track Initiative on ending HIV & AIDS in Uganda by 2030. This was the first initiative in Africa and the entire world.
Museveni said he was the first came to know about HIV/AIDS during the liberation war when one of his soldiers got sick and died after the doctors failed to find out what he was suffering from.
After capturing State power in 1986, he said he sent some army officers to Cuba for training. Fidel Castrol, the former President of Cuba revealed to him about a disease that most of the officers who had been sent for training had been found with.
“Over 60 soldiers were sent to Cuba for training and 18 of these were found to be HIV positive,” he revealed.
This information, the President said, made him pick interest in the disease and find out how it was spread.
“I found out that AIDS was spread through unprotected sex, blood transfusion, mother to child and using unsterilized sharp instruments,” he said.
Museveni said by then the AIDS prevalence in some areas in Uganda was at 30% and 18% at the national level.
“I knew we had to sound a strong alarm. When making an alarm about food in our culture we don’t make it loud because we want a few people to come but when it came to AIDS, I knew we had to sound a much louder alarm like we were going to war,” he said.
The President said the government adopted the ABC (abstinence, being faithful and use of condoms) method to sensitize and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS which helped lower the Prevalence rate.
Role of the family
The President also emphasized the role of the family in the fight against AIDS.
“I must emphasize the role of the family in the fight against AIDS. Talk to your children, this is because the first relationship a child has is with the parents. We need to talk to our children about AIDS,” he said.
Other leaders speak out
The President of Guinea who is also the Africa Union (AU) Chairperson, Alpha Condé, said the AU was committed to ending AIDS on the African continent.
He revealed that the body had launched a campaign to hire two million health workers to provide health services to AIDS patients.
“It is very important to have people who can provide health care to AIDS patients,” he said.
AIDS activist, Line Renaud called for more open mindness about HIV and an end to criminalization and discrimination of people with HIV and fulfillment of pledges of funding.