High HIV/AIDS rate in Uganda blamed on extra-marital sex

Kampala- Uganda (PANA) -- Extra marital sex is dealing a negative blow on Uganda' s adult population, as married Ugandans over 30 years have a higher risk of cont r acting HIV /AIDS than their single counterparts, according to the UNAIDS 2008 gl o bal epidemic report.
The report, released last week, revealed that the proportion of men and women wh o have had sex with someone other than their spouses increased from 12 per cent t o 16 per cent for women, and from 29 per cent to 36 per cent for men during 1995 and 2006.
The bi-annual report, a compilation of national progress reports by governments across the world, shows that new infections are found highest among the cohabiti n g/married/widowed group at 42 per cent, 22 per cent among commercial sex workers , while mother to child transmission (MTCT) and casual sex contribute 21 per cent and 14 per cent respectively.
Analysts said the new trend of HIV/AIDS prevalence requires a shift of focus fro m the youth who seem to be more responsive to preventive methods, including the l atest phenomenon of abstinence, to adults who seem to have lost self control.
"We have to do more with adults now.
We are faced with a new challenge for polic y makers and programme implementers who have been focussing on young people and a dvising them to get married to avoid the disease," said Dr.
Sam Okware, the Dire c tor of Community Health Services at the Ministry of Health.
Okware cited the country report submitted to the UN AIDS agency in January 2008, saying "most new infections in Uganda are among people aged between 30 - 34 yea r s and 40 - 45 years.
" Director General of the Uganda AIDS Commission, Dr Kihumuro Apuuli, agreed with Okware, saying, "most countries, including Uganda, have targeted young people in prevention strategies.
So now we need to change the emphasis because the demogra p hics of the epidemic have changed "Whilst the new prevention method of ABC - Abstain from sex, Be faithful (to on e partner) and Condom use - seems to work as prevalence rates decline to 6.
5 per cent from over 20 per cent, there is now need to adjust the prevention strategie s .
"We want to expand voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) to combat the spread [ of HIV] within marriage," Kihumuro suggested.
UNAIDS further reveals that an estimated 130,000 new infections occurred during 2006/07 alone.
Three in ten of Ugandan infants born to HIV-infected mothers are reported to be infected with HIV, while only 12 per cent (10,289) of HIV-positive pregnant wome n receive Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) to reduce the risk of MTCT as of the en d of 2005.
About 40 per cent (91,500) of those needing ART are receiving it as of the end o f 2006.
By September 2007, there were 106,000 active clients on ART from 286 ce n ters.
Of the patients, 11,000 were HIV positive children.
Voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) is still a challenge; only 4 per cent of women and 3.
8 per cent of men aged 15-49 received an HIV test in the last 12 mon t hs.
Whilst one woman in ten of the age-group of 15-49, who had more than one sexual partner in the past 12 months reported the use of a condom during their last sex u al encounter, compared to about 16 per cent for men.
"This indicates that women are still most vulnerable to infection than their mal e counterparts.
Less than half of sex workers reported using a condom on their l a st sexual encounter," Okware explained in an interview.
A total of 96.
6 million condoms with an additional 40 million in the pipeline, w ere procured with support from the United States Agency for International Develo p ment (USAID), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Global Fund dur i ng January 2006 to December 2007.

11 august 2008 18:30:00

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