Uganda was once considered an HIV success story. When the virus hit the country, the government adopted an aggressive public awareness campaign encouraging people to remain monogamous and use condoms. President Yoweri Museveni’s willingness to talk about the “dirty subjects” – sex, condoms, etc. – helped ensure that people understood how to prevent the disease.
But now the HIV rate in Uganda is on the rise. HIV prevalence has been increasing slowly but steadily over the last few years, and was at 7.3% in 2011. In northern Uganda, where Network for Africa works, prevalence is even higher at 8.3%. Women are particularly affected by the disease: a staggering 1 in 10 women in northern Uganda is HIV+.
This makes the work of our outreach counselors even more crucial. Based in Patongo, northern Uganda, they work at the local health centre to counsel and comfort vulnerable people who need HIV testing or who have already tested positive. If people are reluctant to go to the clinic for testing, our outreach counselors visit them in their villages. In some cases, their support has prevented suicide, and their involvement has strengthened community solidarity, reducing both the stigma and trauma associated with being diagnosed as HIV+. And most importantly, it encourages people to get tested, reassuring those who are HIV+ that they can live relatively normal lives. In the past three months alone, counselors have worked with 527 people at the clinic.
In addition to counseling, they also offer valuable advice and information for people who are HIV+, and are, understandably, worried about their situation. They teach hygiene, so people can avoid opportunistic infections. They provide treated mosquito nets and training to reduce the incidence of malaria, which debilitates people already weakened by HIV. They explain the importance of drinking clean water, they distribute condoms and talk about safe sex.
Our counselors work tirelessly to stop HIV in its tracks, and to help HIV+ people enjoy fulfilling lives. You can help them in their fight.
- £3 could pay for a treated mosquito net.
- £55 could pay for a bicycle for an Outreach Counselor.
- £50 a month could pay for 100 people a month to have HIV counseling
Click here to learn more about our counseling programme in Uganda.
All statistics come from the 2011 Uganda AIDS Indicator Survey, published 31 August 2012. The report can be found at http://reliefweb.int/report/uganda/uganda-aids-indicator-survey-report-2011.