Every year, on 1 December, the world commemorates World AIDS Day. People around the world unite to show support for people living with and affected by HIV and to remember those who lost their lives to AIDS.
This year, the world’s attention has been focused by the COVID-19 pandemic on health and how pandemics affect lives and livelihoods. COVID-19 is showing once again how health is interlinked with other critical issues, such as reducing inequality, human rights, gender equality, social protection and economic growth. With this in mind, this year the theme of World AIDS Day is “Global solidarity, shared responsibility”.
COVID-19 has demonstrated that, during a pandemic, no one is safe until everyone is safe. Leaving people behind is not an option if we are to succeed. Eliminating stigma and discrimination, putting people at the centre and grounding our responses in human rights and gender-responsive approaches are key to ending the colliding pandemics of HIV and COVID-19.
We have seen how the COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the challenges faced by people living with HIV, women and girls and key populations, including in accessing life-saving health care, and how the crisis has widened the social and economic inequalities that increase the vulnerability of marginalized groups to HIV.
Young people between 15-24years are responsible for 34% of new HIV infections annually. The national commemoration for World AIDS Day last year were hosted at Busana Playground Kayunga District located in central Uganda. Kayunga district venue was chosen due to the high HIV prevalence currently at 7.3%, high presence of most at risk populations including the Fisher-folks and migrant workers, as well as high teenage pregnancy rate currently at 24%.
Uganda has made significant progress in fighting HIV and AIDS during the period 2010-2018. However, the magnitude of the epidemic remains high. Uganda still has 1,000 new infections and 500 deaths every week.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), in Uganda, the prevalence of HIV among adults (15-64 years) is 6.2%, which is equivalent to 1.2 million people of the same age bracket that are living with HIV in the country.