Hardly a month before three families recover from two HIV/AIDS linked death trauma in Bunyoro, Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) has organised an HIV Exhibition in the region to remind people that the deadly virus still lingers on.
Two murder and one suicide cases have of late by and large been registered in Bunyoro depicting the magnitude of danger HIV/AIDS still poses on people.
The cause pivoted around HIV/AIDS infection fear and blame game over transmission in Hoima and Kibaale districts.
Ruth Nalunga, the IDI Project Coordinator, told Kazi-njema News that on realising that the disease continues to devastate people’s lives in Bunyoro, the organisation has decided to embark on an expeditious collection of facts about the history of the scourge in Uganda.
The exhibition to be conducted at the end of April 2020, will be a conduit of reminding activists and majority youth population that HIV/AIDS is still real and claiming people’s lives even though there is hope for healthy living once the virus is detected early and patients adhere to drugs.
Nalunga said the idea of achieving HIV/AIDS information was born earlier on in 2018 when IDI partnered with The AIDS Support Organisation (TASO) Uganda and Uganda Aids Commission (UAC).
However, it delayed to hatch over funding limitations until the organisation secured funds from the Irish Embassy in Uganda.
“We shall have exhibitions in Hoima, Arua, Wakiso, Rakai, Kampala and Moroto because of logistical limitations much as we would love to spread further as requested by the local leaders”, Nalunga said.
The exhibition is preceded by an incident in Bujogoro Village, Kabasekende Sub-county in Kibaale District on Christmas Eve, 2019, when Paul Rugendo, 27, killed his girlfriend, Suda Naziwa, accusing her of infecting him with HIV before hanging himself the same night.
The episode occurred barely a week after a woman identified as Joan Twinomujuni, 29, hit to death her boyfriend, Emmanuel Tumusiime in Kigorobya Sub-county, Hoima District.
Julius Allan Hakiza, the Albertine Regional Police spokesperson said, Twinomujuni handed herself to Hoima police station with information that she had committed the offence. Hakiza said Twinomujuni accused her boyfriend of failure to disclose his HIV positive status until she discovered it herself a day before when she found him swallowing ARVs in hiding.
Initial HIV tests indicated that Twinomujuni was negative though she committed the crime.
She was arraigned before court and remanded to Kiryateete government prison in Hoima town on charges of murder.
The two incidences triggered a need for stakeholders’ swift intervention to invigorate awareness campaigns about HIV/AIDS through exhibition.
Nalunga said the central objective is to showcase the history of HIV/AIDS in Uganda since the early 1980s when the late renowned musician, Philly Bongole Lutaaya publicly declared his HIV positive status.
The materials used at that time to sensitise people and videos showing how dreadful and upsetting the virus was before the Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI) introduced ARVs in 1995 and the free ones in government health facilities by 2005, will be helpful in drawing back people’s attention to the problem.
Voluntary testing and counselling services will also be availed at the exhibition. A frontline stakeholders’ engagement aimed at sharing experience for documentation and digitally achieving information was held at Hoima Resort Hotel.
Dr Joseph Ruyonga, the Hoima District Health Officer, supported the idea saying history can go a long way as far as sensitisation of the youths about HIV/AIDS is concerned.
He noted that the youth seem to be ignoring the fact that HIV/AIDS is still active, terrifying and killing their dreams silently.
“To me, the issues of capturing the history before it vanishes is very important. I pledge total support to the HIV/AIDS exhibition to ensure that it is a success” said Ruyonga.
Frederick Alibankooha, the Kahoora Division chairman, said that scaling up the fight against HIV/AIDS with new tactics of sensitisation would help curb the threatening spread of the virus amid a population boom caused by an influx of people flocking the region searching for opportunities in the oil and gas industry especially in Hoima.
Robinah Tibakanya, the coordinator for Persons Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWH) in Hoima observed the need to improve on sensitisation activities to curb cases of violence related to stigma that sometimes cause murder among HIV positive sexual partners.
She attributed cases of violence among HIV/AIDS infected couples to knowledge gaps about positive living.
Tibakanya noted the need for increased sensitisation; translating into extra funding to allow educators to reach as many people as possible.
She encouraged HIV positive patients to adhere to treatment saying they can live for as long as 30 years.
Tibakanya also advised those who are HIV negative to be precautious albeit the availability of the lifesaving lifetime ARVs.
According to the UAC, the spread of the virus went under control by early 2000 following multiple sensitisational and institutional approaches in response to the alarming spread in the early 1990s but has of recent shot up alongside the growing youth population in the country.