Uganda is one of the most under developed countries in Africa, with a population of about 40 million people.
There are a number of factors that have led Uganda to lag behind as far as HIV is concerned. I would like to take this great opportunity to talk more about stigma, treatment and prevention in detail.
Due to misinformation about the virus, stigma is rising at a high rate; HIV-positive people are facing a very big challenge in the communities where they live and this has caused a lot of felt and enacted stigma, especially for young people living with HIV in rural areas of Uganda. This has created a lot of fear among them and has prevented them from accessing a wide range of love, care and support.
Ignorance among some people who are on HIV treatment is also growing at a high rate. Most of them have failed to understand that HIV has no cure at the moment and they end up going to churches to be healed rather than take treatment and pastors pray for them, yet these people are putting their precious lives in danger. This has left friends and families in tears and sorrows.
These pastors tend to cling to some Bible quotes and mislead their followers instead of reading to understand what the Bible verses mean. Yet the Bible says in James 2:14-26 that faith without works is dead.
Some of these heartless people (pastors in Christian faith) are on ART medication like we are but mislead their followers that faith has healed them and so their followers end up losing their own lives. This is commonly practiced with poor, ignorant people living with HIV who mostly stay deep in the villages and have no access to HIV medical centers. They listen to pastors’ adverts on radio and come to urban centers to be prayed for so that they may be healed once and for all… and they lose their lives!
As Love To Love Organization, it has been our role to emphasize this: that we should wake up to fight such things to save our own people and this is the responsibility I and Daniel Ssemuli are taking, being youth HIV activists. We have taken a step through our No More Silence Program to educate misinformed people by use of our HIV awareness movie, songs and community peer to peer meetings.
Love To Love Organization and other Non Government Organizations in Uganda have been trying many prevention campaigns in order to combat HIV/AIDS in different areas of Uganda but poverty has caused a lot of setback in terms of operation and this has hindered the work of such activities in different organizations.
Secondly, some of the Non Government Organizations in Uganda don’t want to partner with one another and this has caused all nonprofit organizations to lag behind as far as HIV information is concerned. But if we all unite with the same driven goal and mind, we can fight stigma and promote treatment and prevention measures which will lead us to an HIV free generation.
In my summation, I would love to see all civil society organizations who are engaged with HIV to unite as one for the noble cause of reaching the 90-90-90 target goal of ending HIV and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone around the world who has participated in this struggle of fighting HIV.
I urge you to continue with the same spirit.
Photos courtesy of Love To Love Organization
About the author: William Matovu is a peer educator with Love To Love Organization in Uganda.