In Summary

The President says anyone who acquires the disease betrays his family and asks the youth to completely abstain from sex.

Kampala- President Museveni has advised youth to completely abstain from sex before marriage as a way of fighting HIV/Aids.

The President has previously emphasised the abstinence strategy.
“Those NGOs and whites come deceiving you that circumcision and condom use are the best ways to protect yourself against HIV/Aids. But for me I advise you to put padlocks on your private parts,” Mr Museveni said yesterday during celebrations to mark World Aids Day at Boma Grounds in Fort Portal Municipality, Kabarole District.

He added: “I told my children that once someone is affected by HIV/Aids , they have betrayed their families because of the high hopes we usually have in children. So whenever my children would return for holidays, I would ask them whether the padlock is still on.”

The President was responding to remarks by several speakers at the event, who warned that the fight against HIV/Aids was being lost because of unclear messages, particularly to the youth. They said the messages, especially the ABC (abstinence, be faithful and condom use) strategy, are no longer an effective tool.

“I feel so ashamed and angered when I attend these HIV/Aids meetings. Why should you sleep with someone you do not trust?” Mr Museveni said.

The district chairperson, Mr Richard Rwabuhinga, had earlier said: “Despite all these interventions, lack of a clear message to the youth has made us lose the battle. The ABC strategy has not been clearly perceived by the youth here. We need a better and clearly packaged message for them.”

The King of Tooro, Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukiidi IV, said poverty levels and ignorance are the major causes for the spread of HIV/Aids in the country.
“Young girls are lured into sex with gifts from rich infected men. We (the kingdom) are trying to bridge this gap by offering good infrastructure and building strong families throughout the kingdom,” he said.

This year’s theme is “Getting to Zero My Responsibility,” which the organisers explained as zero deaths, zero stigma, zero new infection, zero discrimination in the fight against HIV/Aids.

Dr Christine Ondoa, the director of the Uganda Aids Commission (UAC), said the goals of the theme can be achieved by 2030.

According to UAC, Uganda had 137,000 new infections last year.
State minister for Health Sarah Opendi said despite all the HIV prevention messages being promoted in the last 25 years, there is no behavioural change among the youth.

“The number of sex workers has increased countrywide, while some health workers are giving wrong results. This must be checked,” Ms Opendi said.
Mr Museveni despite limited funding from donors, the government will continue to provide drugs and treat those who are already living with HIV/Aids.

UAC said infection rates are higher among the fishing communities, long distance drivers and uniformed service men.

THE HIV/AIDS PREVALENCE RATES
Fort Portal, where the main celebrations were held, has one of the highest prevalence rates in the country standing at 12 per cent.

Explaining why, Dr Addy Kekitiinwa, the director Baylor Uganda, said the area is a prime spot for long distance truck drivers, sex workers and the fishing folk, the communities which have been identified as key populations heralding the high prevalence rate.

“There is a shortage of anti-retroviral drugs and testing kits. We need the government to help us in this regard,” said Mr Musa Bungudu, UNAIDS country director.

National prevalence rate stands at 7.3 per cent. This amounts to an estimated 1.4 million people, which includes 190,000 children. A total 40 per cent of HIV related deaths have been reduced in the last five years while infections have been reduced from 162,000 in 2011 to 137,000 in 2013.

A total of 66 per cent of women and 40 per cent of men know their HIV status. As of June 2014, 68,000 people are on treatment and 1.4 million are living with HIV.

Additional reporting by Sandra Janet Birungi