In recent developments, authorities have pointed to cross-generational and transactional relationships as contributors to a concerning increase in AIDS cases among students pursuing higher education. The Uganda Aids Commission (UAC) has undertaken efforts to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS among students, acknowledging that this demographic faces a higher risk of new infections compared to others.
During an awareness campaign held at Kyambogo University to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS, Eddie Mukooyo, the chairperson of the UAC, emphasized the critical role of students in achieving Uganda’s 2030 target of ending the AIDS epidemic. Mukooyo stressed that new HIV infections are notably prevalent among youths aged 14 to 24, a group that largely comprises university students. Engaging these students is deemed essential to attain the 2030 goal.
Recent statistics from the UAC reveal that over 1.4 million Ugandans were living with HIV as of December last year. Among them, 858,000 are women, 495,000 are men, and 80,000 are children. Additionally, in 2022, Uganda witnessed a tragic loss of over 17,000 lives to the disease while recording 52,000 new infections.
Mukooyo disclosed that out of the 1.4 million Ugandans living with HIV, only 1.2 million have access to health services and antiretroviral drugs. He stressed the importance of universal drug access, aiming to ensure that all individuals living with HIV receive treatment, while also striving for zero new infections and eliminating stigmatization by 2030.
Furthermore, Mukooyo highlighted the necessity of equipping the youth with accurate information, data, and statistics regarding HIV/AIDS. He asserted that having access to reliable data is crucial for dispelling stereotypes that have contributed to the disease’s prevalence among young people.
Dr. Charles Mukisa, the director of health services at Kyambogo University, echoed the concern about cross-generational and transactional relationships, attributing the worrisome rise in AIDS cases among tertiary institution students to these dynamics. Dr. Mukisa noted that financially stable older partners, often referred to as “sugar daddies,” have become a concern for young female students. These men, possessing financial resources, entice female students seeking a more lavish lifestyle with modern phones, hairstyles, and clothing, ultimately making them susceptible to the disease.
To address this issue, Kyambogo University has initiated a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy that educates and counsels students on methods to prevent the spread of HIV. However, limited funding remains a challenge for this program. University authorities remain optimistic about its potential to contribute to achieving the 2030 target.
Last week, UAC Director General Dr. Nelson Musoba revealed that female youths aged 14 to 25 accounted for more than two-thirds of the 30,000 new HIV infections reported among women in the previous year. This stark statistic underscores the urgency of addressing the issue of AIDS among the younger population, particularly students.