The report compiled between May 20 and 23, indicates that fishermen prefer having unprotected sex with multiple partners even when they are aware of their HIV status.

?Interactions revealed that having multiple sex partners, failing to use condoms even with partners known to be HIV-positive, transactional sex and sex under the influence of alcohol or drugs were factors contributing to the high prevalence of HIV,? the report notes.

The report was presented Tuesday to the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Rt. Rev. Stanley Ntagali by FIDA programme manager, Stella Marie Biwaga, at the Provincial Secretariat of the Church of Uganda in Namirembe, during a meeting with stakeholders of the Lake Victoria Rights Programme (LVRP).

LVRP is a rights based programme operating in the Ssese Islands in Kalangala district, implemented through the Church of Uganda Department of Planning Development and Rehabilitation and Namirembe Diocese.

The report was presented to the Archbishop in the presence of MPs on the parliamentary committee for children led by chairperson, Florence Mutyabule, Church of Uganda provincial secretary, Canon Amos Magezi among other high ranking church officials.

Other stakeholders who participated in the compilation of the report include FIDA Kenya, International Organization of Migrations (IOM) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The findings show that HIV prevalence rate in Ssese Islands is 27%, higher than the national prevalence rate of 7.3%, marking it as a hotspot for promiscuity.

?Cash and disposable incomes, poverty, irregular working hours and long stay away from home, alcohol consumption and prostitution are the contributing factors. Low income women are drawn to the landing sites precisely because of opportunities to sell food, alcohol or sex,? says the report.

Biwaga said women travel from Masaka and Entebbe on Fridays to the islands targeting the disposable income of the fishermen, since they don?t have a culture of saving.

?When we reached the islands, fishermen were excited thinking we were their usual clients who had travelled from Masaka and Entebbe ready to offer them services,? said Biwaga.

The report adds that fish landing sites, particularly on islands have been long neglected and have little in the way of basic health, HIV and AIDS care and education facilities, coupled with inadequate human resources at the health facilities.

The findings also show low levels of education among the fishing communities attributed to lack of schools and high rates of children dropping out of schools.

Ntagali said he will closely work with parliamentary committees to push for amendments in various aspects including reviewing of the resource allocation policy framework to dictate equitable allocation of resources, putting into consideration hard to reach areas.

The Archbishop promised to tour the islands of Kalangala this weekend as part of his pastoral visit to experience the challenges faced by the dwellers.

Mutyabule hailed the existing cordial relationship between the Church of Uganda and Parliament in addressing issues affecting people living in the islands who face special challenges because of the waters surrounding them.

By Alfred Wandera, The New Vision

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