Adaptations in HIV/AIDS Prevention Services are Needed
Ntinda, Kampala – The Uganda Network on Law, Ethics and HIV/AIDS (UGANET) calls on the Uganda government to follow the United Nations AIDS agency (UNAIDS) recommendations on making innovations and adaptations in HIV/AIDS prevention services.
A Global HIV Prevention Coalition newly-published report titled, Preventing HIV infections at the time of a new pandemic: a synthesis report on programme disruptions and adaptations during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, provides a synthesis of the status of HIV prevention programming during the COVID-19 pandemic, identifies critical vulnerabilities, risks and major service disruptions and documents responses in a range of settings.
The report also places a significant focus on gathering information on programme innovations at the community level.
Prevention programs including multi-month dispensing of condoms, lubricants, needles, syringes and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), differentiated service delivery and self-testing approaches, alternative access points for prevention commodities such as condoms and PrEP, are some of the measures that can be adopted by health authorities during this lockdown period.
Many people especially in rural areas are not allowed by travel restrictions to go to health centers, which are most times the only place they can access condoms. This puts them at risk of contracting HIV from unsafe sex.
Additionally, PrEP – which helps protect an individual from contracting HIV from a positive partner – can only be received from health centers at sub-county level and with the current ban on public and private transport, this poses a challenge to those who may need the drug.
UGANET urges health authorities to adopt measures like extending condom and preventive drugs like PrEP to household level so that no one is left out or put at risk of contracting HIV.
Many gains have been made in the recent past, including declining rates of HIV infection, a clear indication that further efforts can bring the new HIV infections rate down.