Mbarara HIV Agencies Struggle to Provide Services in Upcoming Towns

3711 Views Mbarara, Uganda

In short
The latest records at Mbarara health department show that the HIV/ Aids prevalence rate at Nyeihanga and Buteraniro trading centers stands at 20.2 percent more than double the 7.3 percent national average.

HIV/AIDS agencies in Mbarara are struggling to provide services to five key areas with high HIV prevalence. The affected areas include Nyeihanga and Buteraniro trading centers, Ruti, Kizungu and Kakoba suburbs in Mbarara district.
 
A 2013, report by Makerere University Institute of public health from a study conducted in the five trading centers showed that, HIV prevalence had reached 15.2 percent in Nyeihanga and Buteraniro trading center, Kinzungu and Kaboba 12 percent while Ruti was at 7.2 percent.


The study attributed the escalation of HIV infection in these areas to poverty, influence of drugs and inadequate HIV services like availability of condoms. The latest records at Mbarara health department show that the HIV/ Aids prevalence rate at Nyeihanga and Buteraniro trading centers stands at 20.2 percent more than double the 7.3 percent national average.
 
However, HIV service providers in Mbarara say they are grappling with handling the escalation of infections in these areas. Umar Maserka is the Mbarara district HIV/Aids focal person. He says they are finding a huge challenge to provide services due to the nature of lifestyle of the people in the transit towns. 

Masereka says the upsurge of HIV/Aids in the area is a major lesson to service providers like reproductive health Uganda, Aids Information center and TASO among others to change their strategies of reaching out to the most at risk population and avoid duplication of work.


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Rose Kakyo Amooti, one of the residents living with HIV/Aids blames the escalation of infections to inadequate information on the disease, lack of sensitization, commercial sex trade, extra marital affairs, shortage and inconsistent use of condoms.

Jenifer Nyakato an official with Aids information center Mbarara says they are trying as much as possible to change people's behavior on engaging in reckless sex, which she says isn't an easy task. Nyakato says most people don't want to identify themselves with HIV/ Aids service providers for fear of being stigmatized. 


She says in January alone only 3 out of the 35 sex workers on ARVs, 49 truck drivers and 121 boda boda riders allowed to be followed up due to the nature of their work.



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About the author

Mariam Kabasongora
Mariam Kabasongora is the Mbarara URN bureau chief. Mitooma, Ntungamo, Bushenyi, Sheema, Isingiro, and Kiruhura districts fall under her docket. Kabasongora has been a URN staff member since 2011.

Kabasongora began her career as a reporter for Messiah Radio in Kasese in 2001. She was subsequently a reporter with Endigyito Radio in 2005, Voice of Kigezi in Kabale between 2002 and 2005 and a freelance reporter with URN from 2007 to 2010. She was the news editor with Voice of Kamwenge in that district from 2008 to 2010.

Kabasongora covers agriculture, local government, health and faith stories. She is also interested in politics.