Director General of Uganda AIDS Commission Dr. Christine Ondoa

Director General of Uganda AIDS Commission Dr. Christine Ondoa

The number of Ugandans who acquire HIV every year dropped from 170,000 in 2011 to 127,000 in 2014, representing a 30% decline. Ondoa said of these, at least 70% are youth, mostly girls, between the age of 18 and 24 years.

Making reference to the 2011 Uganda AIDS Indicator Survey findings, Ondoa attributed the problem to early unprotected sex and multiple concurrent sexual partnerships fueled by rampant alcohol and substance abuse.

?Among teenagers aged 15-17 years, 1.6% of the girls are infected compared to 1.8% of the boys; the percentage more than doubles when it comes to the 18-19 years age bracket with 5.1% girls infected compared to the 1.5% of the boys,? Ondoa said.

The infections among girls continue to rise with a 7.1% infection rate among girls aged 20-22 years while for boys in the same age bracket it reduces to 2.8%. The general national HIV prevalence is currently estimated at 7.3%, up from 6.4% in 2006.

Ondoa explained that the high rate of new infections especially among girls aged 20-21 years is at the higher education institutions because of the social networks that encourage cross-generational sexual relationships.

?[Some] University girls have about five boyfriends who play different roles; one caters for the wardrobe, one is for hanging out with friends, one is for coursework, then one for buying the latest gadgets,? she said.

Ondoa was addressing students from various schools during the celebrations of the BANG (Becoming a New Generation with values and character) organized by the Family life Network, a local non-governmental organisation.

However, the Family Life Network executive director, Stephen Langa, blamed parents who have absconded from their role of raising upright children for the high rate of HIV infections among the youth.

?Parents have the biggest influence on their children but there is lack of parental involvement so other people like sugar mummies and sugar daddies come in,? he said.

Amos Lapega, the director of ethics in the ministry of ethics and integrity, noted that the new technologies have made the youth more susceptible to be lured into unhealthy practices like cross-generational sex.

Ondoa also told the children to abstain from sex, warning that pregnancy and some other sexually transmitted diseases like Hepatitis B may be more harmful.

?Hepatitis B is transmitted through sex and is more infectious without medicine; at least we have ARVs that can control HIV but with Hepatitis B, there is nothing,? she noted.

Earlier, the speaker of Uganda Rebecca Kadaga received a petition from the children before flagging off a peaceful pro-abstinence procession from the CHOGM gardens at the Parliament building to UMA exhibition hall, Kampala.

By Jacquiline Emodek, The New Vision

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