Family Medical Point has called for more collaboration in the fight against HIV/aids among the fishing communities in Uganda. The clarion call was made during the World Aids Day celebrations at the Kasenyi landing site.
Fisheries represent a rapidly growing sector contributing to national food security, employment, and export earnings. Fish and fish products are Uganda’s second largest export.
Currently, 1.5 million Ugandans are living with HIV. The Country has registered significant progress in the fight against HIV and Aids, bringing down HIV prevalence from 18% in the 80s to 5.2%. The new infections have reduced to 52,000 annually from 94,000 and consequently, Aids-related deaths have reduced to 17,000 annually.
Residents of fishing communities are one of the most at-risk groups for HIV. Frequent mobility, transactional and commercial sex, multiple sexual partners, high consumption of alcohol, poor health infrastructure, and limited access to health services are reported among the main factors shaping the HIV epidemic in finishing communities. HIV prevalence among the fishing communities in Uganda is estimated to be three times that of the general population
According to the Uganda Aids Commission, there is an increase in the number of people testing from 5,998,431 to 6,860,533 in 23. Estimate 1,433,337 People Living with HIV (PLHIV) as of December 2022 were enrolled on anti-retroviral as of June 2023.
Poline Nabwire, the communication officer at Family Medical Point urged the government to seek more collaboration with Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) to fight stigma and create safe spaces for people to seek HIV and sexual reproductive services.
“We conduct outreaches to promote and provide rights-based comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services to young people, women, and marginalized hard-to-reach and forgotten communities. Today, we conducted HIV, Urinary tests, counseling, and sexual and reproductive services at the Kasenyi landing site,” she said.
She said there is a very high rate of HIV prevalence in fishing communities. In awake with the UNAIDS’ agenda of fighting HIV as a public health threat by 2030, people need to know their statuses and access Anti-retroviral (ARVs).
Harison Mbowa, head of the Village Health Team (VHT) of the Kasenyi landing site, there are over 880 people on ARVs however there are more people who are hesitant to test for and seek HIV services.
“This is the center of the over 80 islands of Lake Victoria. Despite various outreaches at the various islands, this is where people seek HIV services. We need to intensify HIV/sensitization campaigns, encouraging people to test and start on medication,” he said.