JINJA: FRIDAY, AUGUST 20, 2021
As many HIV positive people go without antiretroviral drugs due to the high cost of transport during the lockdown, Jacinta Kiiza Namusobya, the Young Positive Eastern region, has stepped in to save those within her reach.
In the company of two colleagues, the 17-year-old walks to Mpumudde Health Centres IV to pick the ARVs and distribute them to people living with HIV/AIDS.
Namusobya is a student of St Florence Senior Secondary School in Bugembe Town Council, Jinja North Division and she contracted HIV at birth.
Together with her colleagues, Nyanzi Dorcas Eseri, 18 and Steward Kitimbo, 19, they are all members of the young peer educators club attached to the Aids Support Organisation, Jinja.
Since March 2020 Uganda has been under lockdown of varying intensity due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as a result, many HIV positive people have experienced challenges of transport to pick their ARVs from the various health centres.
Namusobya said the lockdown has affected many clients who fail to afford transport and who because of stigma do not want to share their status with neighbours who could pick the medication for them from the health centres.
“This has been the main challenge and this is why I spoke to my two colleagues to begin distributing ARVs on foot,” she said.
Jinja City is grappling with a big number of HIV positive people and the prevalence rate is high among the young people, according to Saidi Kalume, the city’s health educator.
He singled out Walukuba community where many young girls have been impregnated during the lock-down, saying that such unprotected sex exposes them to sexually transmitted infections including HIV.
Kalume disclosed that there are 1,800 adolescents and 20,000 adults living with HIV/AIDS in Jinja City and warned that the creeping factories in the city were attracting workers who prey on young girls.
Josephine Awori, a health worker at Mpumudde Health Centre IV attached to the adolescent clinic, confirmed that the rate at which young people were testing HIV positive at the health unit was alarming.
“This is why we have recruited peer educators to counsel the young adolescents who are also positive since they fall in the peer group and enroll their colleagues for treatment,” Awori explained.
Maj. David Matovu, the Jinja Resident City Commissioner, in responding to the new reality, appealed to security officers at the various checkpoints not to stop anybody going to get health services using any means of transport.
“Whether with or without any document, as long as the person is going to the health centre or hospital, allow him/her to move,” said Maj. Matovi.
“For those going to pick their ARVs, just an explanation is enough to allow them.”