Group Launches Program To Expand Role of People Living With HIV/AIDS in Uganda
The International HIV/AIDS Alliance recently launched a three-year program in Uganda to expand the role of networks of HIV-positive people in an effort to improve the delivery of services and reduce stigma, Uganda's Monitor reports.
The program, called the Community Action Against the HIV/AIDS Scourge, will be launched in 27 districts in the country. With funding from USAID, IHAA will train people living with the disease to become network support agents to improve the delivery of HIV/AIDS services. Asaph Ivan Byamukama, IHAA financial and grants manager, said the program will connect service providers with HIV-positive people in order to increase utilization of the services. IHAA has purchased nine motorcycles and 37 bicycles -- as well as provided over 40 million Ugandan shillings, or about $24,000 -- to nine networks in the Jinja and Iganga districts.
Jinja District Health Officer Sarah Byakika said that a lack of strong networks is contributing to the expiration of pediatric antiretroviral drugs at health centers in the district. She added that nongovernmental organizations and the networks should be responsible for disseminating information about HIV/AIDS services to the community.
According to Byamukama, the major challenges faced by local communities are the failure of the Ministry of Health to provide antiretroviral treatment at all health units and a lack of community resources to allow HIV-positive people to receive services. In addition, community leadership is lacking, Byamukama said. Building the capacity of networks of HIV-positive people to address awareness, counseling and coordination is very important at this stage in the fight against the disease, Byamukama said. He added that there is "evidence that stigma is reduced when people living with the disease come together" (Mazige, Monitor, 5/3).