The Ministry of Health launched the Uganda Population based HIV Impact Assessment Survey (UPHIA) at the Ministry headquarters recently. The nationwide household survey will help in estimating HIV incidence, prevalence and viral load suppression among adults and children and provide accurate national and regional level data on the magnitude and dynamics of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country and will be used in planning for the response to the epidemic.
The information collected through UPHIA will benefit both the country and its citizens. This data will be utilized by stakeholders in the HIV/AIDS response to mobilize resources to support the critical interventions for the respone.
Minister of Health, Hon. Jane Ruth Aceng underscored the Government's efforts in implementing a robust HIV and AIDS response following a combination of HIV prevention approach.
The focus of this approach has been the implementation of high impact structural, behavioral and biomedical interventions.
"As a result of this approach, the country has observed significant achievements such as declines in new HIV infections, decline in AIDS related deaths as well as significant increase in the number of people living with HIV/AIDS who receive care and treatment" she noted.
Hon. Aceng urged that the success of this household survey largely depends on the participation of the selected households countrywide and she encouraged everyone to support the survey teams in carrying out this exercise.
At household level, participants will have the opportunity to know their HIV status, syphilis and Hepatitis B. "Those that are infected with syphilis will be treated in their homes while those infected with HIv or Hepatitis B will be referred for appropriate care. A counsellor will be part of the survey teams equipped with health information that will be provided to the respondents in the households" Hon. Aceng informed the gathering.
The U.S Ambassador to Uganda, Deborah Malac noted that this survey will be paramount for both Ugandan and International health officials in making a comprehensive strategy in the fight against HIV in the country.
Ambassador Malac pledged her country's support in the fight against HIV adding that significant gains have been realized and the US Government will continue supporting the implementation of interventions to eliminate the HIV/AIDS scourge. "In Uganda, the United States has invested nearly $3 billion in this battle, which has transformed the lives of millions. And that is why we support the timely launch of this assessment survey" she said.
The Director of UPHIA, Dr. Alex Opio said the public has been mobilized to ensure good participation. He also noted that this is the first time children will be includede in the assessment exercise. "The survey is slated to last for six months and our plan is to spend these months in the field collecting data. Data analysis will commence and new HIV statistics will be available two months later" he explained.
About 300 field workers have been trained and equipped with knowlwdge and skills to collect data using electronic tablets and dsipatched into the field to begin the data collection process.
This survey is being implemented with support from Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and ICAP and Columbia University. Other partners include; Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI), Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC), World Health Organization (WHO) and UNAIDS.