Celebrating World AIDS Day in Uganda
December 2, 2011
country office marked World AIDS Day in Isingiro District. Located in the beautiful hills of southwestern Uganda, Isingiro has an HIV prevalence of 5.9 percent in a population of 408,000.
The event kicked off midday with a march through the town led by district political leaders and the chairperson of the People Living with HIV (PLHIVI) group in Isingiro district.
A march through Isingiro District kicked off the World AIDS Day event. (Photo: EGPAF/Sanyu Nkiinzi)
In attendance were top district officials, including the Resident District Commissioner (RDC), the Mayor, Local Council chairman, Chief Resident Officer (CAO), Secretary for Health, head of Police Isingiro district, District Health Officer (DHO), implementing partners like EGPAF STAR SW, Foundation for Orphaned Children, and other corporate partners.
One large component of the celebration was HIV testing and counseling.. If results showed the person to be HIV-negative, they discussed how to stay healthy and avoid becoming positive. Those who tested positive for HIV were immediately started on a treatment plan, including medication, and linked ito a care and treatment program at their nearest health facility. Of the 291 people tested during the event, 9 tested HIV-positive and immediately began a care and treatment program.
(Top) Health care providers prepare HIV tests.
(Bottom) An HIV test is administered at the World AIDS Day event (Photos: EGPAF/Sanyu Nkiinzi)
Musical performances, dance groups, and drama presentations by people living with HIV continued throughout the day. Key messages included the importance of being tested for HIV—and the importance of adhering to treatment and good nutrition if status was HIV-positive.
PLHIV Chairperson Joan Kyomuhendo led an interactive question and answer session where she asked the crowd questions about HIV to the crowd and handed out prizes to anyone that answered correctly.
The DHO’s speech highlighted the national elimination strategy of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and the importance of having an HIV-free generation. Kyomuhendo then recognized the efforts of the different partners in supporting HIV activities within the district. She was appreciative of the initiative taken by EGPAF STAR SW in bringing CD4 services closer to the people and requested that the process be quickened so that people can start accessing the services. She also highlighted challenges faced by the PLHIV and asked the district officials to speed up efforts to help the HIV-positive community.
In his speech, the Resident District Commissioner emphasized the district’s commitment towards World AIDS Day celebrations and encouraged implementing partners to continue supporting people living with HIV.
Finally, the guest of honor, the local council chairman, mainly spoke about prevention as one of the main strategies to curb the pandemic. In his address, he also encouraged couples tobe counseled and tested together. He also reemphasized elimination of pediatric HIV, increased coverage of PMTCT with the hope of bringing services closer to the people and integration of other services like family planning.
EGPAF STAR SW was among the partners recognized by the guest of honor, and we were awarded a certificate for supporting the district in the areas of HIV and TB. We were proud to participate in this World AIDS Day event -- and the recognition of our work in Uganda to help end pediatric AIDS.
Sanyu Nkiinzi is a regional communications and advocacy officer for the Foundation based in Mbarara, Uganda