By Mubatsi Asinja Habati
Today is World AIDS Day marked under the theme "Getting to Zero". Some 34 million people across the world are HIV+ and 22.5 million of these are in Sub-Saharan Africa. It often a personal/family matter when one falls sick. But it becomes everyone’s affair when the disease is infectious and deadly. Even in that case the individual plays the biggest role in curbing the disease.
For the last 30 years the world has been fighting HIV/AIDS, the disease that has killed over 3 million people and mainly spread through unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected partner. Little success has been gained in terms of securing a vaccination for AIDS but consistent campaigns to avoid risk sexual behavior that expose oneself are playing a key role. Yet the rates of infections are rising in places and reducing in some.
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This week the Isis-WICCE, a global women's organization in Africa committed to fairness, equality and justice in each human relationship, has been carrying out a campaign in Kasese district on child marriages. The organization has highlighted the plight of post conflict problems facing young women in Kasese which was affected by the 5 years Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebellion. Many families, which are the main social support systems, broke down as a result of the war pushing children into risky early sex and marriages. Emotive stories of 19 year-old mothers of 3 children without basic needs support have been heard by many this week. But these early marriages put the risk of catching HIV/AIDS at even higher levels.
In June this year there was a worrying statistic that showed HIV/AIDS prevalence for Kasese district at 11.3% beyond the national average of 6.5%. The ADF war caused much disruption in social support systems like loosening cultural values which resulted in more risky sexual behaviour.
As we join the rest of the world to mark 30 years of global fight on HIV/AIDS, there is need to reflect on lives lost, and lives forever changed as a result of AIDS. What have you done in your capacity to fight this scourge? I am dedicating this blog to my readers to think the effects of the disease and what each one can do in their capacity to bring the HIV/AIDS down.
While several people living with HIV/AIDS are living longer, thanks to antiretroviral drugs and improved care, there is no cure for it; therefore prevention is the key. It’s vital to lend an ear to the numerous campaigns to stop spread of HIV/AIDS. Uganda’s message on HIV/AIDS remains the same and emphatic. Abstain from early sex, Be faithful to your (one) partner and use a Condom if you cannot do the first two. It is the ABC strategy and it has worked.