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Leaders on the spot on HIV disclosure

Karamoja leaders LCV (Kotido and Napak districts) at the centre with other leaders from UAC during an HIV Meeting in Kotido on Wednesday. Photo via URN

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Jie County MP Moses Bildad Adome has put his colleagues on the spot for not walking the talk on HIV disclosure. According to health experts, disclosure, a process through which one opens up about their HIV status, can reduce the stresses of living with HIV and decrease transmission of the virus.

Adome observed that while leaders are encouraging Ugandans to embrace positive living, many of them are living in denial often abusing their position to persuade young girls into sexual relationships.

He was speaking at a stakeholders meeting on the Presidential Fast-track Initiative on HIV/AIDS in Kotido District on Wednesday.

According to the World Health Organisation, disclosure comes with a number of potential benefits for the individual including increased opportunities for social support, improved access to necessary medical care including antiretroviral treatment, increased opportunities to discuss and implement HIV risk reduction with partners, and increased opportunities to plan for the future.

But despite the opportunities, many people are hesitant to disclose their status for fear of abandonment, fear of loss of economic support from partners, fear of rejection/discrimination, fear of violence, fear of upsetting family members, and fear of accusations of infidelity.

Kotido District Chairperson Ambrose Lotukei says disclosure and acceptance are personal decisions that shouldn’t be overemphasized. He, however, hastens to add that most leaders are comfortable encouraging others to accept their status but fear to share their personal status even with spouses.

Simon Nangiro, an elder from Moroto district says that the MP’s observations are timely and need urgent attention if HIV fight must register success in Karamoja. He notes that issues of disclosure among Persons living with HIV are still a challenge in the region and require leadership exemplary approach.

Judith Alyek Odongo, the Woman MP for Kole District who doubles as the chairperson of the committee of HIV in Parliament says although it’s a good practice for leaders to share their status with the public, most of them fear stigma. She encouraged all leaders at different levels to open up to the people they lead.

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URN

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