Uganda’s HIV Prevalence Remains Stable After Years of Decline, Surveillance Report Says
HIV prevalence in Uganda has leveled off after more than a decade of decline, according to data released by the country's Ministry of Health, Uganda's Sunday Vision reports (Wendo, Sunday Vision, 3/21). According to the HIV/AIDS Surveillence Report, the country's HIV prevalence rate fell from 30% to 10.5% between 1998 and 2001, and its current HIV prevalence is 6.2%. However, HIV prevalence among women attending prenatal clinics has remained stable at about 6.5% since 2000, the report says, according to the Angola Press (Angola Press, 3/22). HIV prevalence in the country's main urban centers is approximately 8.3% -- down from 29.4% in 1993 -- primarily because of an increase in HIV awareness campaigns, the report said (Panafrican News Angency, 3/21). In addition, the report estimates that 4.8% of adult Ugandans are HIV-positive, similar to UNAIDS' estimate last year of 5% (Xinhua News Agency, 3/20). The report also estimates that 73,830 Ugandans died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2003 and that 70,170 people were newly infected with HIV. Although the stabilization in HIV prevalence was expected, Dr. Joshua Musinguz of the AIDS Control Programme, who was the lead author of the report, said that "AIDS is still a reality and all Ugandans need to be on their guard," according to the Sunday Vision (Sunday Vision, 3/21).
The health ministry next month plans to begin fieldwork for a national sero-behavioral study to examine trends in the country's HIV/AIDS epidemic, Ugandan Minister for Primary Health Care Dr. Alex Kamugisha has announced, the Monitor/AllAfrica.com reports. The survey, which is conducted every five years, will follow up on information collected in 1998. The final report is expected to be released in December, Kamugisha said (Abdallah, Monitor/AllAfrica.com, 3/20). The survey -- which will cost about $205,000 -- will be conducted in conjunction with UNAIDS, USAID, the World Health Organization, CDC and Makerere University, Kamugisha said (Panafrican News Agency, 3/20). About 23,000 volunteers in 10,000 villages throughout the country will answer questionnaires and be tested for HIV. Of the 23,000 people in the survey, about 7,000 will be children younger than five; 8,000 will be female adults between the ages of 15 and 59; and 8,000 will be male adults between the ages of 15 and 59, according to the Monitor/AllAfrica.com. The government plans to use the survey to assess the success of its HIV/AIDS programs, Kamugisha said (Monitor/AllAfrica.com, 3/20).