TASO Offers Free HIV/AIDS Testing And Couselling To Sex Workers

TASO has embarked on a night campaign of voluntary HIV/Aids counseling and testing –VCT for special groups in areas around the Uganda-Kenya border.

The special group including the sex workers and truck drivers are in the border towns of Malaba and Busia.

TASO says their recent six month research among these special groups in Malaba, Busia, Naluwere and Tororo Town indicates that the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is at 12% against the country’s overall 7.3%.

Annet Betty Nandala, the manager TASO Tororo Branch, says this situation is worrying. She says that following the increased prevalence, TASO initiated the night VCT campaign exercise targeting prostitutes and truck drivers among others, with the intention to reduce on the prevalence.

She explains that in their campaign, the target groups are asked to embrace safe sex and seek medical redress for those living with HIV/AIDs.

Nandala says the campaign dubbed “Moon Light Operation” is conducted only at night and very early morning since the parties involved do not want to be identified.

She says the campaign that started with very low turn up of clients has now picked up seriously adding that in the last two months alone more than 630 clients had been tested. She said a number of them who were found positive have been enrolled for ARV drugs.

Denis Kigongo, one of the counselors involved in the campaign describes it as a big achievement. He attributes the achievement to their loyalty and respect to the clients.

He said they mobilized the groups through some of their colleagues who are getting services from TASO.

He said the move would do a long way to reduce the prevalence rates in the area. He however says the challenge is that these clients keep moving from one area to the other, something he says needed a a similar countrywide exercise to address the matter.

The fight against HIV/AIDs among these “special groups” remains a big challenge in Uganda and TASO insists that so far this is the best way to start with.

A preliminary report on the Uganda AIDS Indicator Survey, conducted by the Ministry of Health, shows the country’s “HIV prevalence rate has stagnated over the last 10 years, and the number of people infected with HIV has risen from 1.8 million people to 2.3 million today.

Meanwhile, a new US-financed survey says that Uganda is one of only two African countries, along with Chad, where AIDS rates are on the rise.

The Report, the Uganda AIDS Indicator Survey, shows that infection rates have increased to 7.3 percent today from 6.4 percent in 2005. The report detailed the health status and sexual behavior of more than 20,000 Ugandans across the country.

Health experts blamed Uganda’s government for becoming complacent since winning international acclaim, and financial aid, for its AIDS efforts.

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