We need to continue drumming HIV prevention messages, especially regarding the elimination of new HIV infections among children, so that people wake up” First Lady of Uganda Janet Kataaha Museveni
UNAIDS Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, Dr Sheila Tlou appealed to Uganda’s First Lady Janet Kataaha Museveni to champion the elimination of new HIV infections among children in the country.
The request was made during Dr Tlou’s official visit to Uganda from 8-9 November 2011 aimed at engaging high level political leadership in support of the Global plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive. Uganda is one of the 22 countries who participated in the development of the Global Plan and has committed to implement it.
“We should strive to keep mothers alive so that we do not create more orphans,” said Dr Tlou. “We should also enrol them on antiretroviral therapy as soon as possible so that they can safely continue breastfeeding and ensure that the babies are healthy,” she added.
The Director General of the Uganda AIDS Commission, Dr David Kihumuro Apuuli noted that 150 000 children below 15 years in Uganda are HIV positive, with only 24 000 accessing HIV treatment out of 98 000 who need it. Dr Apuuli also noted that adults, who should be an example to the youths, are the ones contributing to over 50% of new infections mostly because of multiple concurrent partnerships.
The First Lady called on government leaders to ‘re-energize their efforts in HIV prevention. “I think prevention campaigns relaxed and people forgot that HIV is still with us. We need to continue drumming HIV prevention messages, especially regarding the elimination of new HIV infections among children, so that people wake up,” said Ms Museveni. “I have been speaking to the president to talk about HIV. He used to and it worked.”
The First Lady Museveni is the founder of the Uganda Women’s Initiative to Save Orphans, and is the patron for the National Youths Forum plus several youth initiatives in HIV and sexual reproductive health.
Ms Museveni who recognized UNAIDS’ work in Uganda, committed to lead the AIDS response. “My traditional area of work focused on young people. But now I’m scattered. It has really distracted me from my calling but I know we really have a challenge. I’m willing to come back on board,” she said.
During her visit, Dr Tlou was also met with the Minister of Health Dr Christine Andoa, Apuuli, and the head of the AIDS Control Programme in the Ministry Of Health Dr Zainab Akol.