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Kigezi clergy, HIV activists disagree on promoting condom use

Lilian Tatwebwa, the In-Charge of Advocacy and Communication for the National Response Uganda AIDS Commission

Kigezi, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |  There is a dispute between HIV/Aids activists and religious leaders in Kigezi sub-region on the promotion of condom use as one of the major ways of containing the spread of HIV. 

According to the 2017 Uganda Population HIV Impact Assessment and Uganda AIDS Commission, the HIV/AIDS prevalence in the Kigezi sub-region stood at 7.9 per cent.  As a result, HIV activists in Kigezi want all stakeholders to promote condom use to contain the spread of the disease, saying many people have failed to adhere to Abstinence and Being faithful to their partners.   

However, religious leaders have strongly opposed the proposal, arguing that promoting condom is the same as promoting promiscuity.  Job Namanya, a lecturer at Bishop Barham University College in Kabale district, says the promotion of condom use should be considered as a major way of controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS because the other methods have failed to yield results. 

Namanya says that even some public figures who should serve as role models in promoting abstinence and being faithful have failed to do so, which calls for promotion of condom use especially among students at higher institutions of learning.

Eunice Kabagambe, a counsellor at Kambuga Hospital in Kanungu district, says promoting condom use is okay because it plays a very big role in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Infections.   Rukiga Audio.

Alice Kasisi Babihuga, the Rukungiri District Health Educator who also doubles at the District HIV Focal person, says promoting condom use among married couples is good in protecting them from acquiring HIV.  

He says despite encouraging abstinence among youth, it has failed to work out because most of the engage in unprotected sex due to peer pressure, love for gifts from sugar daddies and mummies and exposure to pornographic materials.

Evas Kato, the Rukiga District Senior Community Development Officer, says abstinence has failed to work since many people who are already sexually active can hardly abstain. Kato says the promotion of condom use is the way to go.

However, religious leaders led by Rev. Emmanuel Bwagye Namanya, the Kigezi Diocesan Youth Coordinator says that for religious leaders to promote condom use totally impossible because it is unbiblical. 

Rev, Namanya says that there is no way how religious leaders can promote condom use instead of advising the public to live the purposeful life as directed by God.

But Rev. Justus Akampurira, the Muhanga Parish priest in Kigezi Diocese and Didas Mujuni, the priest in charge of Rukungiri Central under the Seventh Day Adventist Church insist that as religious leaders they will continue preaching abstinence and faithfulness.

They say promoting condom use contravenes the seventh commandment in the bible, which bans adultery.   

Hannington Arineitwe, the Seventh Day Adventist Church priest in Charge of Rubanda District, says instead of promoting condom use the stakeholders should educate the public to be satisfied with what they have instead of playing sex in an exchange of gifts where they end up contracting HIV.

Bishop Melchizedek Rugogamu of the Born Again Federation in charge of Rukungiri district, says that this is the time for everybody to pray for abstinence and being faithful as a way of stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS. 

Lillian Tatwebwa, the In-Charge of Advocacy and Communication for the National Response Uganda AIDS Commission, says that as the commission, they also encourage youths to abstain and married couples who are unable to be faithful to use a condom.

Tatwebwa however, says youth have failed to cherish the abstinence method due to lack of information and guidance from their parents about the dangers of early sex.

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