The biggest problem people living with HIV/Aids in Uganda face is stigma because it forces them to hide and isolate themselves hence failing to seek support in time, Esther Mbayo the minister for the Presidency has said.
Her remarks come as Uganda prepares to mark the International AIDS candlelight memorial with the theme, “HIV stigma free workplaces: Journey to ending AIDS by 2030”. The day will be celebrated on May 27.
Mbayo stated that this year’s theme focuses on stigma because they acknowledge that while the government has made significant progress in bringing down the HIV prevalence from 18% in the 80s to 6%, HIV stigma is reducing at a much slower pace.
According to the People Living with HIV Stigma Index survey in 2019, the most persistent form of external stigma was awareness of both family members and non-family members who made discriminatory remarks or gossiped about the people.
As a result, Mbayo said these people choose to isolate themselves and not attend social gatherings, do not seek social support and do not apply for jobs among others.
“When people are stigmatised, they do not seek health services in a timely manner. This delay greatly reduces chances of seeking early treatment, adhering to treatment and achieving viral suppression which is key in ending AIDS by 2030” said Mbayo.
Last year, the Uganda AIDS Commission developed national policy guidelines on ending HIV Stigma that will be launched and disseminated this year, according to the minister.
The policy guidelines addresses stigma and spells out the role of different key stakeholders in addressing the vice.
Mbayo thanked President Museveni for his unwavering support and exceptional leadership in the fight against HIV and AIDS in Uganda.
Jotham Mubangizi from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS(UNAIDS) told the media that as Uganda strives towards ending AIDS by 2030, Aids related deaths have declined from 89,000 to 22,000 between 2010 and 2020.
However, the country still has about 60 Aids related deaths per day.