July 31, 2013

UN Report: Uganda Continues To Decline In HIV Fight

Uganda continues to post poor results in the fight against HIV/Aids according to a new report by the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

The report, launched today in Johannesburg, South Africa, says that whereas countries of eastern and southern Africa are making important progress towards achieving an AIDS-free generation, Uganda still has some issues calling for alarm in HIV fight.

The report, “Getting to Zero: the HIV epidemic in the eastern and southern Africa”, says the number of children infected with HIV has fallen by more than half in countries  like Ethiopia , Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

It further says Kenya and Tanzania are among the countries where HIV infection rates among children have fallen by more than one third in the period between 2009 and 2012. Other countries in this category include Malawi and Zimbabwe.

The report however paints a grim picture for Uganda in several areas. The country once seen as a model in the fight against the deadly virus has been categorized among the countries with stagnating or increasing HIV incidences. Also in this category is Lesotho.

This according to authors of the report raises an alarm for Uganda to urgently step up prevention efforts.

Whereas Kenya, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe were categorized among the countries that have reached more than 60 percent of people eligible for ARV treatment, Uganda’s coverage is said to be below 60 percent.

Rwanda alongside Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland and Zambia had achieved more than 80% treatment coverage by the end of 2012.

The report says Uganda is among countries with less than fifty percent reach of HIV-positive TB patients who had started antiretroviral drugs treatment, yet is among the countries with high incidence of tuberculosis among people living with HIV globally.

In 2011, there were an estimated 2.7 million young people, aged 15–24 years living with HIV in the Eastern and southern African region—more than half of all HIV-positive young people globally.

Uganda has also had an increase in HIV prevalence in young women and men yet there was a marked decrease in HIV prevalence among young people in other East and Southern African countries.

The 2011 Health Indicator Survey by the Ministry of Health revealed that HIV prevalence among women and men agd 15-49 years increased from 6.4% in 2004-05 to 7.3% in 2011.

The report says Household surveys have shown statistically significant declines in HIV prevalence among young women and men in recent years in Botswana, Ethiopia, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

The report outlines that the number of new infections among adults also declined––from 1.7 million in 2001 to 1.2 million in 2011––with the rate of new infections declining by more than 50% in seven countries––Botswana, Ethiopia, Malawi, Namibia, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Michel Sidibe, the UNAIDS Executive Director, says Uganda and other countries in eastern and Southern  Africa need to increase and intensify the current prevention programmes as well as enhance quality of care, if they are to reach the target of reducing new HIV infections by 50 percent by 2015.

They also need to scale up HIV spending if they are to meet the target. Eastern Africa according to the report accounts for the biggest portion of HIV funding gap to reach the global target of US$ 24 billion by 2015.

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