AIC’s Press Statement on World AIDS Day 2020
By Sheila Birungi (Executive Director, AIC-Uganda)
AIDS Information Centre-Uganda, 30 years of national solidarity and a shared responsibility towards ending AIDS
On 1st December 2020, AIDS Information Centre Uganda joined the Country and the International Community to commemorate the World AIDS Day under the global Theme: “Global solidarity, shared responsibility” and National Theme “National solidarity and a shared responsibility towards ending AIDS”. This year’s Global and national theme draws and focuses the individual, national and global attention to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on health and its effect on lives and livelihoods. The COVID-19 pandemic shows how health is interlinked with other critical issues, such as reducing inequality, human rights, gender equality, social protection and economic growth for the most vulnerable population. It has further demonstrated that, during a pandemic, no one is safe until everyone is safe. Leaving people behind is not an option if we are to succeed. Eliminating stigma and discrimination, putting people at the centre and grounding our responses in human rights and gender-responsive approaches are key to ending the colliding pandemics of HIV and COVID-19.
As a frontline organization with 30 years of national solidarity and a shared responsibility towards ending AIDS, we have seen how the COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the challenges faced by PLHIV, women and girls and key populations, including accessing life-saving health care. We have witnessed how the crisis has widened the social and economic inequalities that increase the vulnerability of marginalized groups to HIV. However, this crisis has also been a wake-up call to us and presented an opportunity to do things differently—better, and together. It has also strengthened our resolve to continue to show solidarity and share responsibility of ending AIDS by 2030 with key stakeholders such as individuals, peer educators, networks of PLHIV, such as gays, people who inject drugs, sex workers, women and young people, counsellors, community health workers, door-to-door service providers, civil society organizations and grass-roots activists to ensure access to comprehensive HIV and AIDS and OVC services to the truly deserving population.
On the 1st December, 2020, AIC through the National Secretariat and the 9 Regional Centres of Excellence supported District Local Governments, the Ministry of Health and the Uganda AIDS Commission to raise awareness about the HIV/AIDS epidemic, provided services, took stock of achievements, commemorated those who have passed away and rededicated herself to the fight against the epidemic targeting the young people by;
- Reaching 20 million people across the country with messages for HIV prevention and control
- Increasing knowledge especially among the young people about prevention and control of HIV and AIDS
- Demonstrating national and global solidarity in the commitment to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030
- Promoting awareness and mobilizing national support for the International Conference on STIs and AIDS in Africa (ICASA 2021)
AIC’s Contributions to the National efforts
AIC has over the last years implemented an integrated approach including HIV Counselling and Testing, Safe Male Circumcision, HIV Care and Treatment, Sexual reproductive health services to contribute to the reduction of new HIV infections through increasing access and utilization of quality HIV prevention, care, and support and treatment services in the over 60 districts in Uganda. AIC has worked with different development partners who provide both technical and financial support to contribute to its achievements.
Attention is also being given to the most at risk populations such as the fishing communities, sex workers, long distance truckers and uniformed personnel. Other populations of importance include mobile and migrant populations, plantation workers, Bodaboda men, incarcerated populations as well as those in the mining and oil sectors. The plan was developed under the full leadership and involvement of the AIC Board of Trustees. The new strategic plan will also address issues of service delivery in early diagnosis and prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including Diabetes, Hypertension among others as part of the integrated package and will contribute to strengthened laboratory infrastructure to support the quick, and early diagnosis of different diseases to reduce morbidity and mortality at community level.
We continue to address the persistent challenges to effective HIV prevention efforts for adolescents which include inadequate access to high-quality friendly HIV, sexual and reproductive education, life skills, mental health and other health care services. We shall also address the weak; referral system, psychosocial care and support, monitoring and evaluation for quality improvement, adherence, retention and transition strategies.