More than two-thirds of the 30,000 new HIV infections reported among women last year happened to those aged 15 to 25, according to the Uganda Aids Commission (UAC).
Dr. Nelson Musoba, the UAC Director General, explained that women are facing a disproportionate impact from HIV. He stated that the national HIV prevalence in 2022 was 5.1 percent, with women at 6.5 percent and men at 3.9 percent. This data underscores the higher prevalence among women.
Furthermore, Dr. Musoba noted that out of the total 52,000 new infections last year, women accounted for 30,000, with 70 percent of these new infections occurring among adolescent girls and young women aged 15 to 25.
Dr. Musoba attributed the high infection rates among young women to inadequate information about prevention, stigma during healthcare visits, gender-based violence, and rape.
He emphasized the importance of improving communication, breaking down barriers, and involving peers in educating young people about HIV prevention. Dr. Musoba also mentioned the potential use of social media and cooperation with the Ministry of Health to expand access to prevention services for young people.
He made these remarks at the launch of the HIV prevention choice manifesto at Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort in Wakiso. The manifesto is a campaign aiming to increase access to HIV prevention tools, and it attracted delegates from various countries, including Ms. Winnie Byanyima, the Executive Director of UNAIDS.
Ms. Byanyima urged the government to adopt proven strategies and new technologies to reduce HIV infections, particularly among the youth. She emphasized the need for comprehensive sexuality education in schools to provide young people with accurate information about HIV and the risks they face during puberty.
Ms. Lillian Mworeko, the regional coordinator for the International Community of Women Living with HIV East Africa (ICWEA), highlighted the demand among women and girls in Africa for more prevention options to combat HIV. She pointed to new tools such as the dapivirine vaginal ring and cabotegravir, emphasizing the slow adoption of these tools in African countries.
The UNAIDS executive director also revealed efforts to encourage companies to share health technologies with manufacturers in low-income countries for affordability.