Complacency, extramarital affairs pushing up Ugandan HIV infection rate 2008-06-02 21:35:03   Print

    KAMPALA, June 2 (Xinhua) -- The perception that anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) cure HIV/AIDS and extramarital affairs are pushing up the infection rate in Uganda where over 130,000 people get the virus each year, an expert here has warned.

    Kihumuro Apuuli, director of Uganda Aids Commission (UAC) told reporters on Monday that many Ugandans, especially adults above 30years old, are engaging in risky sexual behavior with a perception that the ARVs will heal them in case they get infected.

    "People now think that because we have had HIV for so many years, it is a normal condition among the population." said Apuuli.

    "The message that goes with the drugs must be, yes you are taking drugs but this will not save you, it will improve your quality of life as you wait for your death," Apuuli said, one day before the opening of a global HIV/AIDS conference here.

    He also attributed the increase in the infection rate to people who engage in extramarital affairs without knowing the HIV status of their companion.

    Apuuli said the risky sexual behavior has been due to the lack of specific programs targeting at adults, adding that most of the HIV/AIDS prevention programs have been targeting at youths below the age of 25.

    Most people at risk include, the war-affected people in the northern part of the country, fishing communities, commercial sex workers and armed forces.

    Apuuli called for increased coordination and partnership between Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), the government and donor agencies in order to combat the new challenges facing the fight against the pandemic.

    HIV/AIDS experts last week warned here that the hundreds of CSOs in the East African country, which have different interests in the fight against HIV/AIDS, have complicated the situation.

    They advised that all CSO and donor agencies must follow the national strategy in the fight against the epidemic.

    Recent UAC statistics show that over one million people are living with HIV in the country with over 130,000 people infected every year. The country's prevalence rate has stagnated at 6.4 percent for the last three years.

    Only 125,000 people are on ARVs and yet over 350,000 are in dire need of the drugs. 

Editor: An Lu
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