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Mbarara tops Ankole region in HIV prevalence-study

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The Uganda AIDS Commission has revealed that young girls between 16 to 28 years are increasingly getting HIV in Mbarara city and district with the prevalence rate standing at 8.4% and 14% respectively.

According to Dorcus Twinabeitu the Mbarara city HIV focal person, “as of march 2024, 31852 people were confirmed to be living with HIV in care in Mbarara City compared to 31764 recorded between October and December 2023.

Twinabeitu notes that girls of the age of 15 to 28 are the most infected and testing positive in the city attributing it to a number of factors that among others include uncontrolled alcohol use, low condom use, poverty and reluctance on ARVs uptake.

“Mbarara has increasing education institutions like universities and tertiary institutions with young girls that want to meet some standards yet their families can’t afford so they end up sleeping with older men who are already working and engage in cheap sex where they contract the virus” Twinabeitu revealed.

According to the Uganda AIDS Commission’s HIV prevention officer for Mbarara,  Dr. Steven Asiimwe, “Mbarara district tops the Ankole subregion in the HIV prevalence standing at 14.4% followed by Kiruhura at 9.5%, Bushenyi at 9.2% Mbarara city comes at 8.1% Ibanda at 7.3% Sheema at 7.5%, Ntungamo 5.9%, Rubirizi at 6.1%, Mitooma 4.1%, Buhweju at 3.8% and least is Isingiro at 3.0%”

According to the experts, Kiruhura and Bushenyi have slightly higher figures of prevalence due to behavioral change. For example, legal sharing of partners in Kiruhura is still a contributor and for Bushenyi, the vulnerability of young university girls and cheap sex is still a challenge.

Dr. Asiimwe highlights that southwestern Uganda has an HIV prevalence higher than the national average prevalence of 5.1%.

While engaging media practitioners in Mbarara city on Tuesday, the Uganda AIDS commission experts revealed that in the urban centers, the population is becoming more informed with condom use, self-testing and mother to child transmission sensitization programs thus minimizing the rate at which the virus is spreading.

“When you see the prevalence rate in Mbarara city currently, it is way below the Mbarara district and Kiruhura and that means people in the urban centers are becoming more informed about the presentational programs like PEP and PREP usage, condom use among others,” Twinabeitu shared.

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