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Health workers to drive youth to suicide in Northern Uganda using stigma

Nicholas Niwagaba the team leader at UNYPA speaking at one of the Y+ Beauty Pageant pre-events

Kwania, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT | Young People Living with HIV/AIDs in Northern Uganda, under their umbrella of Uganda Network of Young People Living with HIV/AIDS (UNYPA) have decried stigma and discrimination.

In a startling revelation, the youth accuse medics being at the centre of stigmatising the, a complaint borne out by social workers in the region. Th responsible  Health workers in the north now suggest that  suggests that the Ministry of Health urgently comes out with clear messages to counter the stigma among the young positive.

To reduce stigmatisation by the very people expected to treat and help the patients, Dr Peter Boi Odongo, the Assistant District Health Officer Kwania district, suggests that the medical workers should use carefully selected words when dealing with their clients.

Other health in the north are suggesting that the HIV positive youth should as much as possible be treated by young medics who can relate with them more easily.

The young positive youths raised their accusation against medical personnel on Sunday at Kwania District Headquarters during the 7th edition of Y+ Northern Uganda Beauty Pageant contest organized by UNYPA, an association that brings together the young positive.

Gladys Aol, a 19-year old student and member of Young People Living with HIV (UNYPA) in Uganda says because of the discrimination she lives in fear after her HIV positive status was declared to her. She asks the young people living with HIV to disclose their status to fight stigma.

Twenty one year Oscar Ewa who was born HIV positive says after knowing his status in 2014, he was discriminated by his teachers and fellow learners, this made him abandon taking his medication, but he was later reinstated on treatment after serious counseling and guidance, although he was forced to drop out of school in senior two.

Winny Akello, a medical worker at Aduku HCIV says most of the young people need to be attended by their fellow adolescent’s health workers. She however attributes increased cases of stigma to lack of disclosure among the young positive.

Olga Amuka, the program Manager, Uganda Network of Young People Living with HIV/AIDS, admits that stigma remains a great challenge among the positive youths.

Due to stigma, Amuka says, many young positive are forced to abandon medication, while some commit suicide  as a result of psychological torture by the some medical workers, parents and some members of the community.

She however says as an organisation they have come up with innovations citing annual beauty pageants among others to mitigate stigma and discrimination.

Dr Peter Boi Odongo, the Assistant District Health Officer Kwania district, suggests that the medical workers should use better wordings to the clients.

Kwania District HIV Focal Point Samfang Omara says as the district they have embarked on community sensitization to reduce on cases of stigma among people living with HIV/AIDS.

In 2016, 73% of new HIV infections among adolescents occurred in Africa. Estimates suggest that as many as 740,000 additional adolescents could become infected between 2016 and 2030 according to the World Health Organisation.

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