Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The number of people testing for HIV across the country has been declining steadily over the past three years, according to Uganda AIDS Commission-UAC.
Records from UAC show that 10.7 million people tested in the 2016/2017 financial year, 8.8 million in the 2017/2018 financial year and 7.2 million in the 2018/2019 financial year.
While releasing the data during the 12th Annual Joint AIDS Review meeting in Kampala, Dr. Nelson Musoba, the director general UAC, said they have noted with concern the big drop in the number of people testing for HIV in the country.
He said the development hampers the country’s test and treat policy. “We currently run the test and treat policy. But if people are not getting tested, we cannot put them on treatment, which means that we might not be able to meet our 2030 goal of completely eradicating HIV from Uganda,” he said.
The records also show a decline in the number of people being enrolled on Anti-Retroviral Treatment-ART after testing. Only 89 percent of the 246,629 people who tested positive were enrolled on ART compared to 90 percent the previous year. It is estimated that Uganda records 1000 new HIV infections each week while 500 people succumb to the disease in the same time period. Dr. Musoba attributes the decrease in the number of people testing for HIV on the fact that people are not scared.
“Many people today are so used to living with HIV that they no longer scared. They would rather live in ignorance than know their HIV status. Today, we estimated that only two out every five people know their HIV status,” he said.
Dr. Joshus Musinguzi, the AIDS Control Program Manager in the Health Ministry, says the number of people getting tested is likely to keep reducing.
Dr. Musinguzi says government has developed a new testing policy that will target people suspected to have been exposed to HIV.
Some people URN spoke to intimated that testing is carried out on the basis of whether someone has had sexual intercourse.
Elizabeth Lwanga an engineer says that she has never been tested because she is not sexually active.
“I am not sexually active and believe I have never been exposed to HIV so why worry about my status. I have been involved in a car accident, or pricked with an infected needle, plus am generally healthy. I have never had symptoms that make feel prompted to go and get checked.”
Julius Opio, a security guard says that he has tested for HIV once because he was not sure of his status.
A total of 1.4 million people are estimated to be living with HIV. However, only 1.2 million people are enrolled on ART in the country.