Leaders in Hoima have expressed concern over the high prevalence of HIV in the area after latest data indicated that the city has a prevalence rate of 6.9%, which is worryingly above the national average of 5.2%.
The increase is attributed to various factors, including the influx of people into Hoima, a significant number of truck drivers, and the mishandling of HIV self-testing kits.
Since the discovery of oil in the Albertine Graben and the designation of Hoima as a city, the region has experienced a surge in population.
However, the local leaders, including Hoima City Mayor Brian Kaboyo and District Health Officer Kabagenyi Nazareth, are alarmed by the escalating HIV prevalence rates.
“We were overjoyed to have attained a city status but also discovery of oil in our region but now the increase in population has seen our city have a shot up of HIV prevalence. This is scaring, our intentions are not to be known for bad but rather, we are trying to brand ourselves as an oil city as our trade, so the HIV rates will affect our name,” Kaboyo said.
DHO Kbagenyi said,” Most of you have been seeing these statistics on social media trending but Hoima is not number one in the country. There is Mbarara and Fort portal but our focus is our region, this is not good for our region.”
Data indicates that Hoima City’s rate is at 6.9%, while Hoima District, despite its rural nature, stands at 4.2%, both exceeding the national average of 5.2%.
Kabagenyi attributes this surge not only to population growth but also to the use of counterfeit HIV self-testing kits, where some individuals employ fake reagents like injectable and drip water, leading to inaccurate results.
” You have a city as young as Hoima with HIV prevalence at 6.9%, Hoima District at 4.2% against the national figure of 5.2%, which is very alarming . The most unfortunate thing, besides population growth is that I have received cases where people go to buy self testing kits and are given fake reagents . After testing one gets negative results even when the person tested is positive just because the test has been done wrongly,” Kabagenyi highlighted
According to the District Health Officer, government is trying to extend services nearer to the people and it’s not bad to do self testing but it must be done rightly or else many will continue contracting the virus.
” Self testing is not bad, but what kind of reagents are you using, if the test kits are fine, how about other necessities used in the tests? Are they the right ones? People must be careful with their lives. If you don’t trust the person, and the self testing kit then use a condom at least,” Kabagenyi advised.
Hoima City Mayor Brian Kaboyo asked the public not to buy kits from drug shops they dont trust.
” Remember it’s your life, every time you go to a clinic and you are given things you don’t understand, kindly report to us. We will follow up to find out what kind of medicine it was, and if it’s not right, that person will arrested and their clinic closed for safety of citizens” Kaboyo noted
In response to the concerning trend, the Hoima Resident City Commissioner, Badru Mugabi expressed worry about potential challenges ahead, especially if this state of affairs affects younger age groups.
He emphasizes that a sick community is not productive.
” If the sharp increase in HIV infections involves the young people, then it’s very unfortunate. There is no way a community can be productive when they are sickly all the time, and government will spend a lot of money treating citizens yet that money can go to productive ventures like PDM.”