Stigmatisation of persons living with HIV/AIDS in Manafa district has hampered the progress of HIV treatment and adherence to medication.
The District Health Officer, Gideon Wamasebu, made this revelation to the Committee on HIV/AIDS during its field tour to the district early this month.
“Most people still fear to be tested and get enrolled to the anti-retroviral therapy HIV/AIDS treatment clinic. We recently lost a teacher who was infected because he feared to reveal his status and get helped,” Dr. Wamasebu said.
In the report presented to the committee, Dr. Wamasebu revealed that the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the district now stands at 3.7% among the general public and 4.3% among the pregnant women.
“Despite the low prevalence rate in Manafa District as compared to the national prevalence rate, which is currently at 7%, a big number of the population, 64%, do not know their HIV status,” Dr. Wamasebu explained.
In the joint meeting with the Manafa district leadership, the chairperson of the HIV/AIDS committee, Hon. Sarah Netalisire, noted that among their duties was to also establish the HIV/AIDS services given to people.
“In the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS, we are looking at condom use, transmission between mother to child during childbirth, voluntary counseling and testing, treatment and circumcision,” Hon Netalisire said.
Circumcision being one of the traditions in the district, Hon. Netalisire said that the committee wanted to find out whether the practice is conducted in a safe manner.
In his response, the District Health Officer, explained that they practice safe male circumcision and are in touch with traditional surgeons.
“The district has registered all traditional surgeons and subjected them to an HIV test before giving them a license carryout circumcision. We also have a time table in which circumcision is carried out, for instance, school going children are circumcised in the December holidays and the others in August,” Dr. Wamasebu explained.
The committee also sought to know how the district is addressing mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS and the extent to which men are involved in maternal health issues. Some of the health centers the committee visited included Bugobero Health Center IV.