The future for HIV/AIDS is tricky for Uganda simply because of the high cost of living. It is not news to learn about students in Higher Institutions of learning who end up as sex objects for the sake of making a living. I have always and will continue to advocate for affordable education. It will never help Uganda to continue living the education sector to those who are to make huge profits. When we were in school through the 70's and early 80's, education was not considered a business. Today it is more so after a number in responsible positions saw it as a means to harvest clean money as the Government aid reduced. This type of strategy while at the same time Government is maximizing on taxation is depriving people and many are a victim of circumstances. When you look at what a student has to pay in the University more so Makerere which is Government aided, you really wonder. In 1980 there was private sponsorship for a few students and even a nursery school teacher could afford yet it was quality. Now the earning of most have been eaten up and this is making children very vulnerable and hence the fight to HIV/AIDS a war likely to be lost. Many people don't earn what can feed them in Kampala and what we end up hearing is prostitution on the increase. Uganda has done much but the war can only go a step further when the economy is not what it is, just a nightmare for the majority and this is conducive climate for the virus to multiply.
Sometime ago I had a proposal to help in the fight of the HIV spread, but unfortunately, the proposal could not get funding, but from my understanding, it makes sense. Below are the details.
Proposal Title:COMMITMENT TO NO TO HIV/AIDS FOR LIFE THROUGH FELLOWSHIP
Project Description:To encourage school children to commitment through fellowship to NO TO HIV/AIDS FOR LIFE through being practical examples
Section I. What is your idea?
• The idea is to encourage school children in club fellowship
borrowing from the successful model of The East Africa Revival within
the Anglican Church where members through fellowship and commitment to
the set code of conduct are able to live successful lives and
developing; with one achievement being that if the couple had no HIV
within their midst prior to getting to the revival (or being saved);
the chances of dying without it are no news among the other practices
which make them a model worth learning from. A Code of Conduct for
the Club is to be implemented by the children members with appropriate
guidance; the members of the club will successfully be able to live
free of HIV by avoiding practices that are potential means through
which the virus is contracted and being commitment to their religions
as they benefit from continued fellowship.
• The idea borrows from the observations of what the members of the
East African Revival in the Anglican Church have been able to achieve.
I am fortunate to be a child of parents committed to the ideals of the
Revival and there is no better story I can tell a part from the
possibility of the model being a positive vehicle that can help the
effort to fight contracting HIV. The revival started which was
started as far back as 1929 in Rwanda and Uganda was to counter the
corruption that had entered the Church of Uganda. This was
spearheaded by one Simeoni Nsibambi the father of the Prime Minister
of Uganda (Rt. Hon. Prof. Apolo Nsibambi) and today has living
examples of happy families that are near to morally upright. This
example if borrowed and used in schools by having children interested
in having NO HIV FOR LIFE; chances that the model shall be a big
success cannot be doubted. Many children are orphaned while others
see daily deaths of the HIV/AIDS patients. This experience many
children would love to avoid it as they live on. These clubs will
grow by incorporating the code of conduct as shall be set including
the Don’ts so that HIV can be avoided; Regular group fellowships at
school with club members as well as at home; The incorporation of
living according to the norms of Members’ Religious Teachings and
regular recruitment to get as many members to the clubs to ensure
expansion and growth. In essence therefore, this is borrowing from a
practical experience and is being applied to the HIV problem.
• The scientific basis is such that given that HIV is contracted
mostly through sexual intercourse; if clubs are formed that are to
encourage as well as ensure that members live as per the code of
conduct set as well as observe the teachings of their religious groups
mostly the Christians, chances are that those who subscribe to the
group and eventually become married couples will be able to live lives
free of the virus on practicing sex with one partner for life.
Secondly, many people would love to live on as they see many orphaned
children and any practical workable solution is most welcome mostly by
the young members of society as much pre – mature deaths are seen as
well as the suffering of the victims.
Section II. How will you test it?
The experimental plan will start off with 100 secondary schools in
Wakiso district of Uganda which will be visited by our organization to
introduce the idea to students. Initially, the organization will
write to head teachers about the idea and request them to brief the
students about it; the talk to be followed by registration of students
interested in joining the club. Thereafter, the head teacher will be
expected to give our organization an appointment when we shall talk to
interested students to brief them further. Once the club is formed,
we shall request the school to give the club a patron who will be
responsible for the students’ activities including fellowships among
others. Prior to becoming a club member, each prospect member shall
have his/her HIV status confirmed and it is only those who are free of
HIV that shall join.
The students shall be given the rules of the club, that is; what is
expected of them and how continued subscription to the club will only
be possible if a member lives to the expectation of the club. The
club fellowships are to be guided by guidelines as provided by the
organization and the clubs shall elect their executives. Clubs shall
also encourage most of the socialization out side school activities to
be with club members. And the club shall only recruit those students
found not to have HIV and periodic testing to be done every 6 months.
One other aspect of the club is that members shall be expected to get
marriage partners from within the group; and shall be given
opportunity to form groups outside the school say during school
holidays for continued expansion of club membership and spreading the
idea further as a workable solution to the HIV pandemic.
• How will the work you describe be performed within the budget
(USD$100,000) and time period (one year) allocated for the initial
The work shall involve purchase of a vehicle (Van) to help the
movements to the schools as well as its fuel and repairs and
maintenance; it will also be used to publish materials for guiding the
clubs; shall be used in publishing club magazines; shall be used in
following up logistics to schools; shall be used to meet payments to
staff; shall be used in communication and information dissemination;
shall be used for logistical support for the operations of the
• What essential data will you generate during?
The numbers of members in the clubs; the experiences as is the case
with the Revival we are borrowing from where children will tell of the
experiences in form of testimonies of what they have to overcome
which could have been positive vehicle to contracting HIV; the number
of drop outs as rules shall be clear on how to do away with
defaulters; the progress with recruitments by children when they are
at home and the challenges; the results from tests every 6 months as
any child found HIV positive will be disqualified from the group; the
perceptions by other communities about the innovation; how the
innovation will impact on behaviours generally in the schools.
It is true that the experiments are to do with conforming to
stipulated rules, and when these children stick to the rules, with
time we expect that society will gradually change with more upright
morals. It is default in morals that is the problem yet the
challenges are that there is a bit of time lag which is better
measured in years to see the impact, however, if the students who
subscribe to the club record no sound level of infection or being
involved in acts as reported that are deviant to the code to be
practiced by club members; then it is right to predict that the
experiment will with time generate positive results.
HIV/AIDS AT 30 YEARS: GOOD AND BAD NEWS
By Evelyn Lirri
Posted Sunday, June 5 2011 at 00:00
Thirty years ago on June 5 1981, American scientists confirmed what would later be known as HIV/Aids. As the world marks three decades of the epidemic today, the disease which remains incurable presents an astonishing mixture of bad and good news.
Globally, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAIDS) estimates some 34 million people are living with the HIV virus and nearly the same number have died since the first case was reported in 1981.
In its latest report, “Aids at 30: Nations at the Crossroads” released on Friday, UNAIDS reveals that the rate of new infections has fallen globally by 25 per cent.
Despite expanded access to antiretroviral therapy, a major treatment gap remains, the report shows. At the end of 2010, it says some nine million people who were eligible for treatment did not have access.
Treatment access for children, the report shows, is lower than for adults - only 28 per cent of eligible children were receiving antiretroviral therapy in 2009, compared to 36 per cent coverage for people of all ages.
“Access to treatment will transform the Aids response in the next decade. We must invest in accelerating access and finding new treatment options,” said Mr Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS executive director.
He added: “Antiretroviral therapy is a bigger game-changer than ever before—it not only stops people from dying, but also prevents transmission of HIV to women, men and children.”
While the rate of new HIV infections has declined globally, the total number of HIV infections remains high, at about 7,000 per day and the number of people living with HIV/Aids is still on the increase.
Part of the reason is that Aids patients are surviving longer because of the availability of antiretroviral treatment.
In Uganda, the 30th anniversary of the HIV/Aids epidemic is being marked by both good and bad news.
Ten years ago, Uganda was considered a shining example of how a country--even a poor one at that can effectively fight HIV/Aids, having reduced its prevalence from 18 per cent in the 1980s to about 5 per cent by 2000.
But in recent years, the country’s reputation has lost its lustre, as gains against the disease have halted.
Experts say complacency, ignorance and indifference have played a role in reversing Uganda’s gains against the HIV/Aids epidemic.
And the number of people getting infected every year—about 130,000 are higher than the number of people drying from Aids related illnesses.
As UNAIDS analysis show, for every one person who starts treatment, two others become newly infected.
Ironically though, Uganda appears to be a victim of its own success. News of the early success, the comfort brought about by the availability of drugs has led to complacency and a return to risky sexual behaviour. As a result, fewer people are using condoms regularly and many more including married people and others in long term relationships are taking on multiple sexual partners.
Dr Kihumuro Apuuli, the director general of the Uganda Aids Commission (UAC), explained that behaviour change will be crucial to turning the tide against the Aids epidemic.
“A vaccine that lives within yourself—to change your sexual behaviour is the only thing that will set you free,”Dr Apuuli said.
According to Dr Apuuli, keeping more people on anti-retroviral drugs will be more costly if the number of new infections keeps rising.
And donor countries which fund more than 80 per cent of Uganda’s Aids budget are growing restless as they consider the prospect of an ever-rising cost to keep hundreds of thousands of infected people alive.
Some 550,000 people living with HIV/Aids are currently eligible for anti-retroviral treatment under treatment guidelines which were developed by the World Health Organisation but only about 240,000 are receiving this treatment according to figures from UAC.
According to the UNAIDS report, some $22 billion is needed globally between now and 2015 to fight HIV/Aids--$6 billion more than is available today.
Mr Musa Bungudu, the country coordinator for UNAIDS in Uganda, said the country needs to invest more of its resources in managing HIV/Aids.
“We need to invest our financial resources in as much as the international community is contributing to our HIV response. We cannot continue to depend entirely on outside resources. What happens if they suddenly stop?” Mr Bungudu questioned.
Mr Bungudu said if government starts putting more of its own money to manage HIV/Aids, it can lead to some level of ownership and responsibility.
“If Uganda can reduce the number of workshops and conferences, that can see more money being channelled to managing HIV/Aids,” he said.
Health experts also say government should invest in a range of options that can make a big difference including promoting sexual behaviour change, investing in male circumcision, massive voluntary counselling and testing, preventing mother to child transmission and proven scientific interventions including a vaccine.
But they agree that after 30 years with no cure or a vaccine, turning the Aids tide remains difficult, requiring a combination of patience, increased local responsibility and some tough decisions.