Uganda Piloting HIV Partner Notification Service

2522 Views Rakai town, Uganda

In short
The World Health Organisation defines partner notification as the process of contacting the sexual partners of an individual with a sexually transmitted infection including HIV, and advising them that they have been exposed to infection.

The Ministry of Health is piloting a new strategy aimed at boosting the number of partners seeking HIV testing and counseling services in Rakai district.

The prevalence of HIV in the district stands at 12 percent far above the national average of 7 percent.  But there is a high degree of complacency among couples, a situation which could drive infection rates up, according to the District Health Officer Dr Moses Sakor.

This is the basis of the new 'Partner Notification Service' piloted in Rakai and Kiboga districts in the central part of the country. Dr Sakor says that once a person tests positive, their sexual and needle-sharing partners will be notified of the status and together, they will be introduced to HIV care.

The World Health Organisation defines partner notification as the process of contacting the sexual partners of an individual with a sexually transmitted infection including HIV, and advising them that they have been exposed to infection.

Through the process, people who are at high risk of HIV infections are contacted and encouraged to attend counseling, testing and other prevention and treatment services.

The process also known as contact tracing is already used in the United States and the United Kingdom to interrupt complex sexual networks through which HIV is often transmitted and to reduce undiagnosed HIV and onward transmission of the virus.

Dr Sakor says the mass testing strategy has failed to deliver results although it has been widely used.
 
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Moses Mayombwe, the HIV Focal Person at Kasensero landing sit says sex work is frustrating campaigns against New HIV Infections. As a result, HIV prevalence at landing sites stands between 30 and 40 percent. Cases are high in Kasensero, the epicenter of the epidemic, and Ddimo landing site.

He notes that many fishermen detest condom use.

If the new strategy proves successful, government will roll it out to the rest of the country.

 

About the author

Edward Bindhe
Bindhe prides himself on being a part of the society he writes about. He believes there is no way a journalist can understand his society unless it considers him a part of it. This is why he is dedicated to investigating the challenges of the "little person."

Bindhe says, "My work reflects the Uganda Radio Network unique approach to news." Not many Ugandan journalists would consider or even notice the re-emergence of Water Hyacinth on a lake. Bindhe does.

Truant children will attract Bindhe's attention until he gets to the bottom of their truancy: poverty and the need to work to earn bread for their families. These are the kinds of stories Bindhe is often after.

Edward Bindhe is the Masaka URN bureau chief. Rakai, Lwengo, Lyantonde, Kalangala, Mpigi, Kalungu, Bukomansimbi and Sembabule districts fall under his docket. He has been a URN staff member since 2009.

A Mass Communication graduate from Uganda Christian University, Bindhe started practising journalism in 2008 as a reporter for Radio Buddu in Masaka district.