Uganda is instituting a communications committee to streamline all HIV/AIDS information before dissemination to the public, a top official of the Uganda Aids Commission has revealed.
Vinand Nantulya, the commission’s chairman says uncoordinated and distorted behavioral change messages have been found to have hindered Uganda’s chances of maintaining a successful campaign against HIV/AIDS attained in the 90s.
Interacting with Journalists at a forum organized by Uganda Media HIV/AIDS Info, a local NGO that works to foster dissemination of HIV/AIDS information, Nantulya also appeared to fault international partners for the distorted behavioral messages.
“Our messages were simple and encouraging people to be faithful to their partners but the international community complicated it with ABC”
ABC is the internationally acclaimed model that combines abstinence, being faithful among partners or using Condoms.
The communications committee will coordinate stakeholders and ensure a uniform message is disseminated.
Uganda, previously held as a model in the fight against HIV/AIDS saw prevalence levels increase again since 2002 peaking at 7.3%. Policy makers point to uncoordinated messages as a key factor responsible for the rise. According to the commission, the country registered a 0.1% decrease last year.
At the same event, the new Director General of the commission, Dr. Christine Ondoa herself a former Health Minister noted that research had shown that high poverty levels are also undermining efforts against HIV/AIDS.
“Many youths indulge in unprotected sex with rich benefactors as a way out of poverty” she said, adding that continued economic empowerment and enlightenment of the youths is important.
Youth unemployment in Uganda stands at 80% and the economy posted less than 5% growth this year, according to most estimates.
But the availability of ARVs is also widely viewed as another factor contributing to increasing prevalence rates as people grow complacent.