HIV/AIDS Cases Increasing Among Married Couples in Uganda; Officials Call for Increased Testing, Prevention Efforts
A recent study conducted by Uganda's Makerere University found that although the country's HIV/AIDS prevention programs primarily focus on younger, unmarried people, new cases of the disease are increasingly occurring among married couples ages 30 to 40, the New Vision/AllAfrica.com reports. The study, called "Modes of Transmission," was led by Fred Wabwire-Mangen, an associate professor of epidemiology at the university's School of Public Health. It was conducted on behalf of the Uganda AIDS Commission and UNAIDS. Wabwire-Mangen said that about 650,000 Ugandans are unknowingly living with HIV-positive sexual partners and that almost 85,000 of these individuals, or 13%, will contract the virus this year if nothing is done to increase awareness about the situation. He also said this "could explain why we see a lot of new [cases] every year" and why HIV/AIDS cases in Uganda are increasing. Wabwire-Mangen called for a large-scale campaign encouraging couples to undergo HIV testing together and plan for better health.
The results of the study have "raised a fresh alarm" among Ugandan officials, the New Vision/AllAfrica.com reports. David Kihumuro-Apuuli, director-general of UAC, said the country will encourage HIV testing among married couples and those intending to marry in response to the situation. He said, "Here is a changed face of the epidemic. Here is the evidence that we have to emphasize different areas of prevention from what we emphasized in the 1990s." Additionally, Kihumuro-Apuuli said that HIV/AIDS cases are increasing and that most funding is going to treatment programs rather than prevention initiatives. He said the country has "done well" to provide more than 150,000 people with antiretroviral treatment -- an increase from the 15,000 three years ago -- "but that means we have shifted our priority from prevention." He added that for every two people who are placed on antiretrovirals, five others will contract HIV. Kihumuro-Apuuli said that "[i]f you wait for people to become infected and you continue treating them, you are missing the point" (Wendo, New Vision/AllAfrica.com, 1/9).