Rapid Population Growth in Uganda Affecting Efforts To Fight HIV/AIDS
Rapid population growth in Uganda is undermining efforts to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS, Uganda AIDS Commission Director General Kihumuro Apuuli said Wednesday at a press briefing in the capital of Kampala, New Vision/Allafrica.com reports. Apuuli spoke with journalists ahead of the four-day HIV/AIDS global implementers meeting scheduled to start June 3 in Kampala.
There are an estimated 30 million people living in Uganda, New Vision/Allafrica.com reports. Apuuli said about 1.1 million of them are HIV-positive, but 90% are not aware that they are living with the disease. He also noted that more than 30,000 new HIV cases occur there annually. In addition, HIV-related deaths had increased 30% to 100,000 last year from 72,000 a few years ago, when a national survey was conducted.
According to Apuuli, mother-to-child HIV transmission accounts for 22% of new HIV cases in Uganda, and 25% of infants born to HIV-positive women contract the virus. Women in Uganda have an average of seven children, according to New Vision/Allafrica.com. Apuuli said that people often engage in risky behavior under the assumption that new medications to treat HIV/AIDS will soon be available. "If we do not prevent new infections, we will be chasing a mirage," he said.
The country's AIDS commission has created a five-year plan that focuses on HIV prevention, according to Apuuli. He added, "There are 120,000 people on antiretroviral drugs out of an estimated 240,000 who need it. We intend to make the drugs available to 300,000 people" (Mugisa, New Vision/Allafrica.com, 4/30).