The Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibe discouraged stigmatization of the new AIDS infections saying they should instead be protected. Sidibe was speaking at the launch of a five point Presidential First-Track Initiative to End the HIV/AIDS Pandemic as public health threat in Uganda by 2030.
He also stressed the need to stop mother to child AIDS infection and to end the pandemic in Africa adding that in Uganda it was time to invest in human beings under “Kisanja Hakuna Mchezo.” “Uganda has been a model for the world in the fight against HIV/AIDS and ending HIV/AIDS is an investment in human dignity” Sidibe said.
The US Ambassador to Uganda, Ambassador Deborah Malac underscored Uganda’s road to achieving the UNAIDS global 90-90-90 target with two out of the three targets achieved amongst children.
“Among women, the 1st 90 target has been achieved and Uganda is on track to achieve the 2nd target” she said amidst applauses. The UNAIDS 90-90-90 target calls on countries to ensure that 90 per cent of people living with HIV are diagnosed by 2020, 90 per cent of diagnosed people are put on antiretroviral treatment and 90 per cent of people on treatment have fully suppressed viral load by 2020.
“However, the problem is with men. Only 60% of men have been diagnosed. I urge all men to be apostles of the “Test and Treat” message for HIV” Amb. Malac advised.
The visiting Zambian First Lady, Esther Lungu, who delivered the speech of the Chairperson of the Africa Union First Ladies Association (AUFLA) Gertrude Maseko Mutharika, the First Lady of Malawi, noted that Uganda has been leading in the campaign in the fight HIV/AIDS on the continent of Africa.
She said that as First Ladies, their consultation on the matter of AIDS pandemic includes action. She added that the First Ladies face a challenge of ensuring that orphanage children access necessary treatment with dignity.
Presidency Minister, Esther Mbayo, said that President Museveni’s cause and fight against the AIDS is well documented by guidance, oversight, campaign and sensitization. She said that among other strategic means to handle the task is to reach out to all communities through the available media.
Health Minister, Jane Aceng, on her part said that the impact assessment records indicate that an estimated 1.4 million people are living with HIV. She added that out those, one million are enrolled in care units while others were on antiretroviral treatment by March this year. She also disclosed that the majority of the infections are in Central Region.
“We face severe challenges among men- Men do not want to engage in HIV prevention and treatment programs. Currently, only 60% of men go for testing while 52% take ARVs” she noted. In the same vein, Hon. Aceng added that Uganda has lost almost 14,000 men to HIV/AIDS.
Under the theme “Ending AIDS by 2030”, the Presidential Fast-track Initiative on ending HIV and AID launched by President Museveni focuses on voluntary testing for men.
“I urge all men to go for voluntary testing and if you are positive, take your drugs consistently. They will not cure you but when the virus is suppressed, your life is prolonged and you will not infect others” President Museveni stressed during the launch.
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