The parliamentary Committee on HIV/AIDS and Related Matters has revealed that there was a drop in condom distribution and use during the COVID-19 pandemic facilitating a surge in new HIV/AIDs infections in the country.
The chairperson of the Committee on HIV/AIDs and Related Matters Sarah Netelisire Kayagi while presenting a report n the assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on HIV/AIDs services delivery in the country quoting a 2022 UNAIDS report revealed that the country witnessed the surge of HIV infections from 38,000 to 54,000 in 2022 at the peak of COVID-19 pandemic.
“The 54,000 cases of new HIV infections recorded during the COVID- 19 pandemic era were attributed to disruptions in service delivery, COVID- 19 intervention measures and lack of access to preventive measures,” Kayagi revealed.
These disruptions also affected the distribution of condoms something that exposed people to the diseases. “In Kyankwanzi, the number of condoms distributed dropped from 34, 567 in 2019 to 12, 564 in 2020,” Kayagi said.
The Committee, Kayagi said, noted that children and adolescents are lagging regarding the accessibility of HIV services and as such their outcomes are poor compared to adults. She advised that government should expedite the implementation of the AIDs Trust Fund strategy and provide guidance on how to support the process to operationalise the Fund.
Kayagi added there is a need for government to urgently increase funding to Uganda AIDs Commission and launch vigorous HIV prevention and treatment campaigns if the gains registered over decades are to be consolidated.
In the same spirit, Noah Mutebi (Nakasongola) argued that if Uganda AIDs Commission is given only money for wages then ‘you are allowing them to just sit in offices.’ “I appeal to the government to fund the Commission so that they can perform their duties.
The Committee also noted that there was a steep drop in voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) in several districts during the COIVID-19 pandemic. “In Bugisu sub-region, VMMC is shunned as the community prefers the cultural ‘Imbalu’,” Kayagi said.
Bernard Ssekyanzi (Budyebo County) advised that circumcision must be done medically. “We should sensitize our people on the same. The public knows that if you are circumcised then you are free and cannot acquire HIV, so we need to educate our people.”