Youth seek MPs support in tackling HIV/AIDS stigma

Members of Parliament have been informed that people living with HIV/AIDS are still stigmatized despite efforts to fight the disease and stigma.
Pill Power, a local Non-Governmental Organization in Kampala told the Parliament Committee on HIV/AIDS that people living with HIV/AIDS are still being viewed as a curse in some communities.
The leader of Pill Power, Barbara Katabazi, who gave her testimony to the Committee on Wednesday, 19 September, 2018 said that she faced rejection from several people after she declared that she was HIV positive.
“My husband is HIV negative and when people, including his relatives heard that he was marrying a girl who is HIV positive, they had no kind words for me,” said Katabazi.
She said continued stigmatization affects the fight against the disease as those living with HIV tend to shy away from speaking out, hence risking more infections.
She called on MPs to promote strategies, which are inclusive in the fight against HIV/AIDS. She said such strategies should encourage adherence to anti-retroviral drugs, increased sensitization and supporting income generating activities of people living with HIV/AIDS.
“We have chosen to recycle ARV bottles to make flower vases. This is intended to send a message to those who are infected that there is no life without ARVs while showing those who are not infected that taking ARVs is a big burden and they should avoid contracting the virus,” said Katabazi.

Douglas Mugabe, a youth living with HIV/AIDS asked the MPs to stop pastors from misleading people living with HIV/AIDS.
“These pastors are killing people by telling them to stop taking drugs and depend on only prayers. Their message should instead be encouraging people to take their drugs while praying,” said Mugabe.
He also called on Parliament to ensure availability of septrin, saying that the drug is effective in the treatment of HIV/AIDS.
The Chairperson of the Committee, Hon Judith Alyek (NRM, Kole district) assured the youths that the Ministry of Health was addressing the issue of shortage of septrin.
“There is a stock out of septrin in the country but in the recent meeting with the Ministry [of Health], we were assured that the drug will soon be available,” said Alyek.
Hon. Violet Akurut (NRM, Katakwi district) encouraged the youth to continue sensitizing young people about HIV/AIDS.
“As scientists are trying to find a cure for HIV/AIDS, organizations like yours should continue encouraging your peers to adhere to treatment,” said Akurut.