Today, Friday 1st, December is the World AIDS Day. On this day all the people of the world join hands to celebrate the day and intensify its global effort to eliminate the epidemic.
Here, in Uganda, we look back to the early 1980s when the effects of the virus were starting to show its ugly chilling effect. It was first noticed among the fishing community at the Lukung landing site on the shores of Lake Victoria. It rapidly spread to the neighbouring districts and the Capital.
Over that time, the country has gone through ups and downs as it grapples with the epidemic. One of the things Uganda is internationally noted for is its coming forward and openly admitting the presence of the scourge and fighting the stigmas associated with it.
Consequently, it has won acclaim for dealing with it. The United Nations through the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States, through its Presidential Initiative of AIDS, have, among other partners and agencies, come forward to help fight to reduce the effects of the diseases normally associated with the virus.
The setting up of the national Uganda Aids Commission (UAC) has spearheaded this activity. UAC has marshaled efforts to set up situations where the drugs necessary to stem the viral effects, are not only produced, but distributed equitably, to the affected people. Especially, notable is the availability of the ARVs, the medicine that has proved to be effective in reversing the effect of the infection.
One of the effects of this is that the populace has become laid back on the strategies that need to be taken to continue fighting the epidemic. So, among some age groups of the population, the viral infection has been noted to climb again after abating. Also, following this is the reduction of efforts to avail the ARVs to the people who are infected.
Besides, there has not been necessary attention and useful supervision to ascertain that such people religiously take their doses of ARVs. It is not enough to assume that people are wise enough to follow the prescriptions.
What all this boils down to is that the country needs to redouble its efforts to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS. Recent statistics from the Ministry of Health are not encouraging as there is a significant rise of the infection among the young men and women.
These efforts are needed in a number of areas. The first is the adequate provision of ARVs to the people who are in need. To do this, the country needs to see to it that its own efforts to manufacture the ARVs are stepped up. Also, the distribution parastatal, the Nations Drug Authority, is made to be accountable to ensure the distribution of the ARVs.
Secondly, the Government needs to make certain that it continues to cultivate the good offices of the WHO and the US Presidential Initiative on AIDS such that their additional efforts keep on the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic.