HIV prevalence rates increase in Karamoja

HIV prevalence rates increase in Karamoja
A Karamojong woman demonstrates the use of a female condom

The prevalence of HIV has risen by 0.3 percent in parts of Karamoja, barely a year after the region recorded strides in eliminating new infections. The new prevalence rate is caused by new infections recorded after March 2017.

A Report from the Uganda Population-Based HIV Impact Assessment (UPHIA), a household-based national survey conducted from August 2016 to March 2017, indicated that HIV prevalence in Karamoja had reduced by 1.9 percent. The findings put the prevalence at 3.4 percent from 5.3 percent in 2011.

However, new findings now put HIV prevalence in the region at 3.7 percent.

Dr Cerino Acar, the District Health Officer Kotido says the increase is facilitated by multiple sexual partners, inconsistence in condom use, high consumption of alcohol and a rise in commercial sex. He adds that a number of young people are getting new infections, a trend he observed could jeopardize Uganda’s goal from eliminating the epidemic by 2030.

Napak District Chairperson Joseph Lomonyang says that the report is a wakeup call for the region to revisit their strategy especially packaging messages on HIV. He told URN that many people in the villages, especially men fear to test, yet they are involved in risky sexual behaviors.

Karamoja Region HIV journey has been changing over the years. In 2000, the region was lying low with an HIV prevalence of only 1.7 percent. As HIV the prevalence in Uganda dropped from 36 to 7.3 percent in 2011, the rate for Karamoja region doubled from 3.5 percent in 2006 to 5.3 percent, according to Uganda AIDS Indicator Survey UAIS, 2011.

Karamoja is second to West Nile which has the lowest HIV prevalence in the country with 3.1 percent.