World AIDS day 2020 looks a bit different on all fronts. We are in the middle of a pandemic that among other things requires all of us to have our immunity and body systems working at their best to combat. And yet here is HIV, an immunodeficiency virus.
People living with HIV/AIDS have had it this year. From lockdowns and the ban on public transport that affected their access to ARVs to food insecurity that affected their compliance with medication.
A story ran on Simon Peter Bukenya, an HIV positive volunteer who bicycled over 80KM to deliver drugs to about 200 patients and bridge the gap. Another article in the new vision highlighted the plight of people living with HIV/AIDS many of whom were abandoning ARVS because of hunger.
These stories are even narrow in scope and do not fully represent the struggles of the Ugandans living with HIV/AIDS in this pandemic.
The access to sexual health and reproductive health services has also been affected by the pandemic. With access to condoms limited by transport services and fewer young people accessing health centers to do regular testing of HIV/AIDS we are very likely to have an increase in the incidence of the disease.
Therefore as we celebrate world AIDS day, today, our ministry of health needs to look into a more integrated response to this pandemic. Otherwise we might fight off COVID19 with ease and end up with more deaths from HIV/AIDS and other health conditions. The ministry should also give more attention to COVID19 among people living with HIV/AIDS since having the disease puts them at an increased risk of death from the disease. In this they should also recognize that their immunity is highly dependent on adherence to ARVS which also demands drug availability and food security.
More information should be disseminated on the use of pre and post exposure prophylaxis for HIV/AIDS. Many people that are known to be at high risk for contracting the disease are not even aware of the existence of pre exposure prophylaxis. Others are not even aware of prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS. This means there is still a lot of work to be done to get these messages out to the public.
With the stigma around the disease still existing despite the efforts to spread awareness, Ugandans also have a responsibility in the fight to end AIDS. We need to recognize that our language and actions towards HIV/AIDS patients has an effect on the spread of the disease. When people hide and are not willing to know their statuses, these people pause a risk to their partners and in turn to the broader sexual network. Let us be kind and responsible with the way we treat people living with HIV/AIDS.
All in all a lot still needs to be done if Uganda is to achieve target 3.3 of the sustainable development goals to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030.
All that said Happy world AIDS day bloggren. This was my attempt at returning to regular blogging. Please share with me your thoughts on living with HIV/AIDS in the middle of this pandemic and what you think can be done to solve the issues at hand.
Bellows of love
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