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New Vision
Mpigi residents want more HIV/AIDS education
Elvis Basudde
February 21, 2012
New Vision (Kampala) - February 21, 2012

Residents of Buyiga island, Kammengo sub-county in Mpigi district have asked government to intensify HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns in the area.

It is presumed many people living on the island hold strong convictions on HIV/AIDS.

"We still carry myths and misconceptions about HIV/AIDS. People are hesitant to have HIV tests because they are not sensitized," said Betty Nabwanika of Buyiga A.

The appeal for intensified awareness was raised during a one-day HIV/AIDS awareness workshop at Buyiga C which was organized by a community-based organization, Joint Efforts for Youth Uganda (JOY-Uganda) with support from Mercury Phoenix Trust, a UK charity.

The workshop targeted peer educators, elders, local leaders and teachers, aiming to equip them with knowledge and skills on HIV/AIDS spread, prevention, management and available support services.

JOY-Uganda programme co-ordinator, Florence Nakaayi said the project code-named, 'SAY NO to HIV/AIDS on Buyiga Island' will also reach out to pupils and students in 20 schools in Kammengo sub-county.

The outreach programme will look to arm the school children with accurate information about the HIV/AIDS epidemic especially in the context of young people.

"Often parents do not speak about sexual health with their children probably because of cultural norms. However, if we have to fight HIV/AIDS among young people, we should break the silence now," Nakaayi said.

Participants revealed that during HIV testing in community outreaches, clients are not given enough counseling. And as a result, people who test HIV positive find their health deteriorating immediately.

They noted that it discourages other community members from testing for the virus.

Among the over 60 participants in the workshop, only four people disclosed to have tested for HIV before.

The Buyiga B LCI chairman, Yozefu Ategeka said the island recieves migrants on a routine basis which makes the community more vulnerable to HIV infection.

He appealed for immediate intervention of stakeholders responsible to prevent the spread of the virus and setting up of support services in the area.

The island has a population of over 2000 people.

Participants also expressed need for free condoms, Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) services and HIV/AIDS training among traditional birth attendants who handle a big number of mothers when delivering.

A condom is sold at sh1200 on the island.

Participants set a committee which would spread HIV/AIDS fight gospel in the area.

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