Health Experts Warn of Neglect of HIV Positive Adolescents

2823 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Health experts have expressed fear over the growing gap in the development and adaptation of culturally appropriate interventions for adolescents’ living with HIV/Aids in Uganda.

Health experts have expressed fear over the growing gap in the development and adaptation of culturally appropriate interventions for adolescents’ living with HIV/Aids in Uganda.

The experts note that adolescents living with the virus are a growing group who urgently need to protect their sexual and reproductive health, prevent onward transmission and live positively. However, a limited number of tailored interventions have been developed and evaluated.

The Uganda Society for Health Scientists are in the process of piloting the newly developed brighter future curricula with a focus on the quality of life for adolescents living with HIV.

Dr. Sabrina Kitaka, a pediatrician at the Makerere School of Public Health, says young people need to disclose their status and avoid having sex with those whose sero status they do not know.

Dr. Kitaka says they are also encouraging young people to delay sex.

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According to a study by the World Health Organisation, the age for adolescents’ first sexual encounter in Uganda is 16 years for girls and 18 years for boys. Previously it was at 14 for girls and 16 for boys.

Without much explanation on implementation, Dr. Christine Ondoa, the minister of health says they have come up with a policy for children and adolescent care.

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Health experts advise government to integrate HIV/AIDS care systems in youth friendly sexual and reproductive health services. This should be with a strong focus on responsibility, disclosure and building self esteem.

29 year old Raymond Kwesiga, coordinator of activities of young people living with HIV at the Aids Information Centre (AIC), says they have never heard of any government intervention for the young people.

He says there is need to separate clinics from which HIV positive adults and adolescents collect their medicine due to the stigma they face.

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With a target of 21,000 youth living with HIV/Aids in fourteen districts, AIC has embarked on safe male circumcision. They deliver information on abstinence in school depending on the age, with condom use coming as a last resort.

He reveals that the ministry of health had discouraged them from encouraging condom use in schools yet many adolescents are sexually active.

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The Non-government organisations, however, say that even if government is promoting safe male circumcision the question of how the practice shall benefit both HIV positive adults and adolescents is yet to be answered.