The Executive Director of Global Fund Peter Sands, Executive Director of UNAIDS Winnie Byanyima, and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador John Nkengasong have reacted to President Yoweri Museveni’s decision to sign the Anti- Homosexuality Bill into law.
They claimed that Museveni has been a leader in the fight to end AIDS. Progress had been made thanks to the implementation of large-scale prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care programs, all provided on the principle of access to health care for all who need it, without stigma or discrimination.
“This approach has saved lives. The strong health systems built to support the AIDS response serve the entire population of Uganda. This was evident as community health workers and health systems developed for the AIDS response played a key role in tackling COVID-19 and other disease threats. Maintaining this is vital: Failures in the HIV public health response will have system-wide impacts that could negatively affect everyone,” they said in a joint Statement.
They said we know that we will be able to overcome this public health threat when we ensure that 95 per cent of people living with HIV know their status, 95 percent of them are on treatment, and 95 percent of those on treatment have achieved viral suppression.
Furthermore, they say Uganda had by 2021, 89 percent of people living with HIV in Uganda knew their status, more than 92 percent of people who knew their HIV status were receiving antiretroviral therapy, and 95 percent of those on treatment were virally suppressed. Uganda is well on track to achieve the UNAIDS HIV treatment targets if progress can be maintained.
“Uganda’s progress on its HIV response is now in grave jeopardy. The Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 will obstruct health education and the outreach that can help end AIDS as a public health threat. The stigma and discrimination associated with the passage of the Act has already led to reduced access to prevention as well as treatment services. Trust, confidentiality, and stigma-free engagement are essential for anyone seeking health care.” they said.
Uganda has repeatedly demonstrated leadership and commitment to ending AIDS – and has achieved great success – by leaving no one behind. Together as one, we call for the Act to be reconsidered so that Uganda may continue on its path to ensure equitable access to health services and end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.