Nakaseke Uganda: Community engages with Persons Living with HIV
The community of Kikamulo gathered at of Kikamulo Sub County near Kikamulo Health centre III after mobilization by Bagundede groups of persons Living with HIV/AIDS (PHA). This gathering brought together local leaders, the sub county chief, religious leaders, Village health team members, health workers, community decision makers and the community development officer.
Active PHA group
Members of Bagundese PHA declared that their group was not a political party and therefore welcomed all members, especially those living positively with HIV.
The community development officer Richard Bogere was happy that the group had exhibited itself as an active group,
“We are happy that Bagundese compliments government of Uganda efforts to develop and enable PHAs live a productive life. We as leaders are going to spread the news about this PHA group and would like to ensure that our community realise the benefits of development initiatives proposed by this group including the rights of persons living with HIV”.
“I appreciate the efforts of Bangundese to mobilize the community and more so people living with HIV. As the Government of Uganda, we urge you to come over and get assistance from the national resources. Do not sit back after the group formation, but explore the opportunities offered by the Ugandan government which can assist Persons positively living with HIV”
Hassan Mutebi the District Coordinator of PHA groups for Nakaseke District urged leaders in all the sectors to come aboard and accept the plight of PHAs.
“Firstly we need you the elders to know our groups, like Bagundese which we have brought to you. We would also like you to know our people who are living with HIV. Our work is complimentary to the Uganda government efforts to reduce the challenges associated with HIV. For us we are involved because we are directly affected. A person who has not experienced HIV like a PHA cannot explain the situation of HIV/AIDS better than a person who is living with the virus”
Hassan also called community leaders to let people know that Bagundese has placed at least 2 people in every health centre III. He said the reason why they placed PHAs at health centres was to enable persons who test positive to have people to approach at those facilities without fear. We do not want people who test positive to shy away and run from the medications and later ARVs. We are there to help them.
High prevalence of HIV in Nakaseke
Nakaseke HIV prevalence rate is at 8%, higher than the national prevalence of 6.5%. As a district Nakaseke is number 6 among the places with a high prevalence.
“Why are we on top? How are those that are not having a high prevalence rate managing to keep it low and do better? And as leaders, how do we mobilise others?” Asked Hassan Mutebi.
But Hassan Mutebi attributes this to drinking alcohol and commercial sex work that is not regulated. He gave a case of Commercial sex workers in Ngoma who may not be using protection during sex. The other factor he said was the leadership of some religious denominations,
“When we say we want to talk about HIV, they stop us that we should not talk about sex in church”
According to Kasenene Tom, acting as the chairman of Bagundese, the group started in 2002 as an HIV testing group among people in Nakaseke, Kikamulo and Kassangombe.
“We were then concerned about our health after testing HIV positive. We realised that with HIV it was not the end of life as long as you are living positively with HIV. I am also among the people who almost died of HIV. But I got the courage to get tested and ever since I was diagnosed with HIV and started on ARVs, I am very ok”.
“We are here to educate. We invited you leaders of Kikamulo to tell you that support us in our efforts to reduce infection and re-infection. We are asking you including religious leaders to support us because HIV is in churches, mosques and public gatherings. We also ask you to give us your suggestions on how to stop the spread of HIV.
A word from the leaders
The sub county chief, Jjingo Ali thanked people from Bagundese PHA for demonstrating such heroism to self-disclose their status about HIV.
“I will recommend that PHAs be recognised s a strong interest group at the local government level and be incorporated in the budgeting process. There is a strong need for private public partnerships to reduce HIV. Inclusion of PHAs in local government planning matters a lot because this will enable groups that are registered to be offered support for economic empowerment.”
“I urge you all to embrace the activities of PHAs. Stop accusations and counter accusations in homes. And stop domestic violence and always blaming each other about HIV”.