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Over 30m condoms to be distributed for Christmas, New Year Eve celebrations

Kampala, (UG): Government through the Uganda Aids Commission (UAC) has announced that more than 30 million condoms are set to be distributed during the festive season to all the 14,000 hotspots across the country where risky sexual activity happens.

Dr Daniel Byamukama, the head of HIV prevention at UAC, while addressing journalists on Thursday in Kampala revealed that 52,000 new HIV infections were registered last year, a number he said is too high given the country’s ambition of ending Aids by 2030.

“We have enough stock of more than 450 million condoms. And for this festive season, we have pushed close to 30 million condoms to every corner of the country,” Dr Byamukama said.

He advised the population, especially young people to either abstain from sex or use condoms for those who cannot control themselves.

“We know in the HIV/Aids control programme that Christmas is the season for high excitement where people engage in high-risk sexual behaviour, including sex with multiple sexual partners, forgetting to use condoms and consuming alcohol which reduces their self-control and engage in high-risk behaviours.”

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He added; “We must continue to preach the message of HIV prevention. Last year we had 52,000 new HIV infections, those are still high. HIV is still real in the country. We have also put in place measures to ensure you don’t contract HIV in case you engage in sex.”

Dr Byamukama revealed that in a move aimed at reducing viral transmission, the commission has embarked on mapping the high-risk hotspots in the country where sexual activity is highly active such as bars, hotels, and key trading centres.

This year, the government through condom programming has distributed a total of 141 million condoms, a figure which was unfortunately a reduction compared to the 189 million condoms that were distributed last year.

The condom distribution campaign according to UAC officials is geared towards fighting new HIV infections and AIDS–related deaths that seem to have stagnated over the last four years.

What AIDS figures say

The Annual Joint AIDS Review Report 2022/23 released early this month indicated that there has been a declining trend in the new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths from the 2019/20 baseline of 54,000 and 21,000 to 51,516 and 17,337 respectively in 2022/23.

However, there has been a stagnation between 2021/22 and 2022/23, consequently calling for more efforts to reach epidemic control.

Based on the Epi-data country estimates for the financial year 2022, HIV prevalence among the adult population (15-49 years) has reduced to 5.1% by 2022 from 5.2% in 2021.

The JAR report 2022/23 also shows that adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) bear the burden of new HIV infections, consequently, contributing 36% of new infections in adults aged 15 to 49 years. This translates into about 18,546 new HIV infections that happened among adolescent girls aged between 15 to 24.

The Director of Planning and Strategic Information at Uganda AIDS Commission, Dr  Vincent Bagambe blamed the poor HIV indicators among young girls and women on vulnerability given that they consider men as their source of income.

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Having programmes empowering the young girls or keeping them in school and educating them about HIV transmission and its dangers is the best way to protect them against the acquisition of HIV, Dr Bagambe said.

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