Ugandan Pediatric HIV/AIDS Conference Cites Lack of Access to Antiretrovirals, High Rates of Mother-to-Child Transmission
About 12,000 of the 50,000 HIV-positive children in Uganda who are in need of antiretroviral therapy are receiving the treatment, delegates said on Wednesday during the second annual national pediatric HIV/AIDS conference in Kampala, Uganda, the Monitor reports. According to the Monitor, there are currently 110,000 HIV-positive children living in the country (Kirunda, Monitor, 8/21).
First lady Janet Museveni at the conference said that despite increasing access among adults to HIV prevention, care and treatment in Uganda, the number of children accessing the services remains low. "Access to care and treatment for children still falls far below that of adults," Museveni said, adding that out of Uganda's 310 antiretroviral clinics, only 174 provide the drugs for children. "The children also need psycho-social support, which is also limited," Museveni added (Bugembe, New Vision, 8/20). According to Museveni, "This horrendous scenario is something that we must address without flinching" (Monitor, 8/21).
Kihumuro Apuuli, director-general of the Uganda AIDS Commission, also told the conference that efforts to reduce new HIV cases among children in the country should start with prevention of mother-to-child transmission (New Vision, 8/20). Every year, 22% of new HIV cases in Uganda -- or 25,000 cases -- are the result of MTCT, according to Apuuli, with 91,000 HIV-positive women becoming pregnant annually (Monitor, 8/21).
Some people in Uganda were "born in an AIDS-free generation," Apuuli said, adding, "It is our moral responsibility to ensure that our children and grandchildren are born and remain free from HIV/AIDS" (New Vision, 8/20). In addition, Apuuli said it is possible for Uganda to reduce the number of HIV cases among children but added that "[p]olitical will needs to be re-energized." Conference Official Phillipa Musoke said that although there have been "pockets" of success in pediatric HIV/AIDS efforts, much progress still needs to be made (Monitor, 8/21).