First Lady Lobbies UNAIDS To Fund HIV Prevention Programme For Young People

From left: Prof. Sheila Tlou UNAIDS Global Ambassador , First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports Mrs. Janet Museveni and UNAIDS Country Representative in Uganda Karusa Kirago- Gikonyo after their meeting at State House Nakasero.

The First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports Mrs. Janet Museveni has requested UNAIDS for support towards a new programme that is being designed to reach the young people in and out of school to help them avoid HIV/AIDS.

We are trying to start up a new programme for children in school and out of school, but the problem is lack of funding. If only you can facilitate us to reach the young people, we could do a good job at reducing exposure of HIV/AIDS amongst the young people”, she told a UNAIDS delegation on Wednesday at State House Nakasero.

The delegation included UNAIDS Global Ambassador and Co-Chair of the Global HIV Prevention Coalition Professor Sheila Tlou, the UNAIDS Country Representative in Uganda Karusa Kirago- Gikonyo and Dr Saman Zamani the Global Fund Uganda Portfolio Manager.

Mrs. Museveni noted that in the past a lot was achieved when through the Uganda Youth Forum programmes young people would be gathered together and sensitized on HIV/AIDS prevention. “We could do a lot by bringing these children together and talking to them. The sooner we get to as many young people as possible, the better”, she said.

She added that a lot has been done in the last 30 years to fight HIV/AIDS spreading and with the positive results of the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission campaign HIV it was hoped that infection rates would go down, but it is frustrating to know that whatever is being done is just a drop in the ocean.

She wondered why the HIV infection rates are not reducing and the African continent has not made headway in the fight against HIV/AIDS like the other continents.

According to UNAIDS Estimates 2019, new HIV infections in Uganda for all ages is at 53,000 while among young people 15-24 years it is at 19,000.

The First Lady described Professor Sheila Tlou’s visit to Uganda as a major intervention in itself and a blessing.

Professor Sheila Tlou explained that the Global HIV Prevention Coalition was established in 2017 to support global efforts to accelerate HIV prevention and is made up of United Nations Member States, donors, civil society organizations and implementers was established. Membership includes the 25 highest HIV burden countries, UNAIDS Cosponsors, donors, and civil society and private sector organizations and the secretariat is based in Geneva.

The overarching goal of the Global HIV Prevention Coalition is to strengthen and sustain political commitment for primary prevention by setting a common agenda among key policy-makers, funders and programme implementers. With countries and communities at the center, it seeks to ensure accountability for delivering prevention services at scale in order to achieve the targets of the 2016 Political Declaration on Ending AIDS, including a 75% reduction in HIV infections towards fewer than 500 000 infections by 2020, and to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

Karusa Kirago- Gikonyo attributed the increasing rate of infections in the young people in Uganda to the structure of the population and existing knowledge gaps. She pointed out Tertiary Institutions as an area that require HIV prevention interventions.

Dr. Saman Zamani, the Global Fund Uganda Portfolio Manager, said that there is available funding in the country that can be accessed to support HIV prevention programmes for the young people. He encouraged UNAIDS and TASO to discuss with the Education Ministry to understand the funding that is earmarked for the Ministry of Education from the Global Fund.