Uganda urges public on HIV/AIDS spread amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Ugandan government on Wednesday urged the public not to relax efforts in combatting HIV/AIDS despite all energies being targeted towards fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Esther Mbayo, minister in charge of the presidency told reporters here that gains made in the fight against HIV/AIDS may be reversed if efforts to combat the disease that has left over two million Ugandans dead since the 1980s are relaxed.

Currently a lot of the national efforts are geared towards the management and prevention of the spread of COVID-19, but the population should not relax efforts and commitments towards preventing and ending HIV/AIDS, Mbayo said.

She was speaking ahead of the International Candlelight Memorial Day scheduled for May 17 when communities stand in solidarity with those who lost their loved ones to AIDS.

Uganda, according to ministry of health figures, has so far 98 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the government fears that the disease may spread further since some of the confirmed cases interacted with the public.

Mbayo said ongoing efforts to combat HIV/AIDS are on course with successes registered to achieve the global target of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

She said to remain on course, the efforts must be persistent. Ministry of health figures show that annually 23,000 people die as a result of HIV and the country registers 50,000 new infections.

The minister said responsible government agencies are going to push out prevention messages countrywide for both COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS.

She said leaders at the district level should, in the face of COVID-19 lockdown, minimize disruption of access to HIV services and ensure adherence to antiretroviral therapy.