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Report: Jinja students prefer pregnancy tests over HIV

“We have observed that the girls were already sexually active but again, the majority asked to be tested for pregnancy with few who underwent HIV tests,” Mawogole said.

As Jinja district joined the globe to commemorate World AIDS Day, organisers of the event targeted primary school and secondary school learners for the HIV prevention message.

This is partly because statistics indicate that HIV prevalence remains high among adolescent girls. Therefore, during the event that took place at Buwenge Seed Secondary School in Buwenge town council, the district, together with its partners provided various health services to the members of the community and school children free of charge.

The services ranged from testing for HIV, malaria, pregnancy, and cancer screening.

Also present were students from Makerere University at the Jinja branch.

However, Jamawa Mawogole, a nurse at Bwase Health Centre II in Buwenge town council, said the majority of female students chose pregnancy tests over HIV tests. The male students dominated in testing for HIV.

“We have observed that the girls were already sexually active but again, the majority asked to be tested for pregnancy with few who underwent HIV tests,” Mawogole said.

The medics conducted HIV tests on blood samples and that of saliva. Even after labouring to demonstrate and assuring them that the results were being revealed secretly, most girls shunned the exercise as others kept requesting to go with the kits and test from home.

“We had different desks which the clients were following including demonstration before getting tested but to our surprise, some girls declined saying they needed to go and test from homes while others chose to test for pregnancy,” Mawogole said.

Teenage pregnancy problem

Balunywa Bukaya, the headteacher of Buwenge Seed Secondary School, said last year, they had two students who wrote their UNEB finals while pregnant.

He added that this year, they had one case of pregnancy with three who were breastfeeding.

“This shows how our children are sexually active and we need to openly speak to them on the dangers of unprotected sex that results in early pregnancies and marriages,” he said.

Therefore, he implored his students to acquire big padlocks and put them around their private parts until the completion of their studies.

“It is possible to remain virgins provided you commit yourselves to books alone until you settle and get the right partners whom you must subject for testing,” he said.

Meanwhile, Alamanzani Kakaire, the Jinja district principal assistant secretary (PAS), said they drew the right target in the audience as the information would greatly help them during this long holiday.

Kakaire implored the LC1 chairpersons and parents to remain vigilant in safeguarding children. He said the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on combating HIV as this sparked its spread.

Uganda marked the event under the theme: “Ending AIDS by 2030: Keeping the communities at the centre.

Revive talking compounds

During the function, Jinja Resident District Commissioner Richard Gulume, who was the chief guest at the event, rooted for the revival of talking compounds and walls in schools which, according to him had gradually disappeared.

Initially, he said fighting HIV had approached all public places with AIDS awareness messages such as compounds, on doors, toilets, and pit-latrines which were no longer as common as before.

He implored leaders to always make use of burial ceremonies to speak about HIV.

He also asked radio presenters to dedicate a minute at the commencement of their respective programmes to remind people of the disease.

He said the 2030 target of eliminating HIV aims at enabling Ugandans to be productive to contribute to the country’s economy.

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