Health

AIDS: Infections Rise As Stigma Raises Ugly Head Again

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treat http://comeduraredipiu.com/wp-content/plugins/thrive-leads/editor-layouts/element-menus/slide_in.php geneva;”>Releasing results of 2011 Uganda AIDS Indicator Survey (UAIS), Ondoa said efforts have been made to reduce the stigma towards those living with the disease.

To assess the level of stigma, UAIS respondents who had heard of AIDS were asked if they would be willing to care for a family member sick with AIDS in their own households and if they would be willing to buy fresh vegetables from a market vendor who had the AIDS virus.

Another question assessed whether respondents thought that a female teacher who has the AIDS virus but is not sick should be allowed to continue teaching.

A fourth question was if a member of the family got infected with the virus that causes AIDS, whether they would want it to remain secret or not.

Survey results showed that over 90 percent of Ugandan women and men age 15-49 say they would be willing to care in their own household for a relative who is sick with AIDS.

Fewer women (72 percent) and men (80 percent) say they would buy fresh vegetables from a vendor if they knew that he or she were HIV positive.

About 8 in 10 Ugandans feel that a female teacher who has the AIDS virus but is not sick should be allowed to continue teaching in the school, while 32 percent of women and 44 percent of men say that if a member of their family got infected with the virus, they would not necessarily want it to remain a secret.

“These results demonstrate indisputably that HIV/AIDS remains a significant health problem for Uganda and should serve as a call to action for us all,” said Minister of Health Dr Christine Ondoa.

SEXUAL INTERCOURSE

Sexual intercourse, Chimp Corps report, is the most common mode of HIV transmission in Uganda.

Looking at age at first sex is one way to understand when most individuals are first exposed to the risk of infection with the virus.

Seventeen percent of women age 20-49 had sex by age 15, while 62 percent in this age group had sex before age 18.

The percentage of women who first had sex by age 15 has decreased over the years; among those age 30-49, 17 to 19 percent of women had had sex by age 15, compared with only 11 percent of women currently age 15-19.

The median age at first sex is 17.1 years for women in the age group 20-49.

Men tend to initiate sexual activity later than women. Only 8 percent of men age 20-49 had sex before age 15, and only 42 percent had sex by age 18. The median age at first sex is 18.4 years for men age 20-49.

The report highlighted that although urban women tend to initiate sexual activity slightly later than rural women, there is no difference in the median age at first sex between urban and rural men.

By region, women and men in South Western region tend to start sexual activity at an older age than residents of other regions, while women and men in East Central region have the lowest median ages at first sexual intercourse.

15 percent of women reported that they have ever been physically forced to have sex against their will.

It was also observed that the median age at first sex tends to increase with higher educational attainment, especially among women. It is also highest among women in the highest wealth quintile. The median age at first sex does not vary by wealth of men, however.

HIV SPREADS

The results of the 2011 Uganda AIDS Indicator Survey indicate that 7.3 percent of adults age 15-49 in Uganda are living with HIV.

Among children under age five, HIV prevalence is 0.6 percent.

These results are based on a nationwide survey that was conducted to provide estimates of HIV prevalence and other important HIV/AIDS programme indicators. Data were collected from a sample of households that are representative of the Ugandan population. The survey was conducted from February to September2011 and interviewed 11,340 households, and 12, 153 women and 9,588 men age 15-59. “The Ministry of Health along with our dedicated international partners takes this as an opportunity to recommit ourselves to continued scale-up of proven HIV interventions, to the goal of universal access to ARV treatment, and to our shared vision of a future free of HIV,” says Ondoa.

The UAIS results indicate that the proportion of adults with HIV has increased slightly since the last national population-based survey in 2004-05.

HIV prevalence is higher among women (8.3 percent) than men (6.1 percent). In addition, HIV prevalence increases with age until it peaks at age 35-39 for women (12 percent) and at age 40-44 for men (11 percent). Four percent of young adults age 15-24 are living with HIV.

Women in urban areas have a higher HIV prevalence than those in rural areas (11 percent versus 8 percent); there is no urban-rural difference in HIV infection among men (6.1percent, each).

HIV prevalence is highest among widowed women and men (32.4 percent and 31.4 percent, respectively) and lowest among women and men who have never been married (3.9 percent and 2.0percent ).

HIV prevalence varies by region, from a low of 4.1 percent in Mid-eastern region to 10.6 percent in Central Region.

TESTING

The survey shows that there has been a tremendous increase in voluntary HIV testing in Uganda over the past 6 to 7 years.

The proportion of women age 15-49 who have ever been tested for HIV and received their results increased fivefold, from 13 percent in 2004-05 to 66 percent in 2011. The increase among men has been somewhat more modest, from 11 percent in 2004-05 to 45 percent in 2011.

The main reason for the gender difference is likely to be the high level of testing of pregnant women.

Survey results indicate that almost three in four pregnant women (72 percent) were tested for HIV and received results as part of their antenatal care.

Circumcision

Whereas male circumcision has been shown to have a protective effect on HIV transmission, the proportion of Ugandan men age 15-49 that are circumcised has remained almost unchanged at 26 percent.

The proportion of men circumcised ranges from 2 percent in Mid Northern region to 53 percent in Mid-Eastern region.

Furthermore, the data indicates that multiple sexual partnerships (proportion of respondents having two or more partners in the previous 12 months), which is a key driver of Uganda’s HIV epidemic, remains unacceptably high at 25 percent among men and 4 percent among women.

According to Ondoa, the UAIS results demonstrate both the strengths and challenges of Uganda’s HIV response.

The survey identifies a continued need for individual behaviour change, and scale-up of evidence-based prevention interventions such as prevention of mother-to-child transmission services and safe male circumcision, as well as increased treatment coverage for people living with HIV.

Interventions should be targeted to those most-at-risk populations and must pay particular attention to those regions and districts most heavily impacted by the epidemic.

This tailored and enhanced approach should significantly impact future rates of HIV infection in Uganda.

The 2011 UAIS was conducted by the Ministry of Health.

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