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Report: Jinja sugarcane cutters fuelling HIV spread in the region

A report released by the Jinja district health department indicates that the Buwenge town council has led in new HIV infections in the last three months.

The new infections put the Buwenge town council against the Buwege sub-county with 45 and 34 cases respectively.

The report was released during the district’s commemoration of World AIDS Day at Buwenge Seed Secondary School in Buwenge town council on Friday.

Dr Joash Magambo, who presented the report on behalf of the health department, revealed that Buyengo town council and Butagaya sub-county followed suit with 33 and 21, respectively while Busedde sub-county and Kakira town council both stood at 14 cases each.

Magambo, who is the acting assistant district health officer in charge of maternal and child health, indicated that the report was held between July and September this year.

According to him, it was for this reason that the commemoration of AIDS Day was held in Buwenge town council.

Much as the report was silent in terms of age group and gender, Buwenge town council deputy speaker Jamia Lukudhe Nalongo (female for elderly) attributed the high prevalence in their area to sugarcane cutters.

Sugarcane cutters criticized

Lukudhe said that after earning between 10,000 and 20,000 shillings a day by cutting sugarcane, the 13- to 14-year-old boys would go back to the trading center and use small amounts of money, chapatti, and soda to attract teenage girls. She said that the boys liked renting bedsits along the Market Zone and sexually engaging with the girls there without taking any precautions to avoid HIV and pregnancy.

“Our girls are very vulnerable and it is very easy to be lured by these boys with simple items and after having unprotected sex with them, they disappear,” Lukudde said.

She added that the practice has fuelled sexual promiscuity in the area as a result of the boys renting bedsits around town.

Lukudhe accounted how she was struggling with a teenage mother after being neglected by a teenage boy since she was three months pregnant until she gave birth to a baby boy who is now two months old.

Creating awarenes

Jinja Resident District Commissioner Richard Gulume, who was the chief guest, said his office was earmarked weekly airtime on three radio stations in Jinja city and is willing to dedicate some of it to the district’s health department towards the sensitisation and creating awareness on HIV.

He said the findings were evident and asked technocrats not to take the fight lightly since Uganda has a target of eliminating the disease by 2030.

Meanwhile, Margret Luba, one of the persons living with HIV attributed the increasing number of infections to failure to test.

“Our biggest enemies are the people who don’t want to test and appreciate their status. This is a big setback for Uganda to meet its target of eliminating the disease by 2030,” Luba said.

As a result of adhering to the medical guidelines, Luba said it was difficult to tell that she was infected since she takes her medicine routinely.

She noted the need to use the peer-to-peer approach in the fight against the disease as it would be easy for them to move village by village while convincing others to test and if found positive, they enroll for treatment.

If empowered with finances, she said the method would be ideal in availing drugs to those still with stigma until they would come to accept.


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