Urban leaders in Uganda, organized under the Alliance of Mayors and Municipal Leaders on HIV/AIDS (AMICALL), have voiced their apprehension regarding the increasing prevalence of HIV among young people living in urban areas.
Ms. Regina Bakitte, the Chairperson of Mayors and Municipal Leaders, raised concerns about the surging rates of HIV infection in urban regions, particularly among individuals aged 18-35. She expressed these concerns during the 12th Annual Urban Leaders Forum, which took place at the Acholi Inn Hotel in Gulu City.
At the forum, Bakitte disclosed that urban leaders have set their sights on reducing the HIV infection rate from 7.2% to 4.0% in urban areas, with the aim of containing the HIV epidemic. As the Mayor of Nansana Municipality, she also urged her fellow urban leaders to intensify HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns and make use of the 0.1 percent funds approved by Parliament to combat HIV prevalence.
Alfred Okwonga, the Mayor of Gulu City, emphasized that Gulu City, as a new urban center, is actively working to curtail the spread of HIV/AIDS through various local government initiatives, such as sensitization programs and the implementation of a Test and Treat Policy, among others.
Oryema John Kinyera, the Chairperson of LC3 in Acholi Bur Town Council, noted that his town faces several challenges due to its rapid growth, including drug abuse, domestic violence, and gambling. He stressed the importance of increasing sensitization efforts and raising awareness about programs aimed at reducing HIV transmission and promoting economic development in the region.
The Annual Urban Leaders Forum serves as a gathering of leaders from municipal and town councils across the country. The recent forum, held in Gulu, revolved around the theme of “Building a sustainable urban authorities, a joint response.” The leaders are uniting in their commitment to address the pressing issue of rising HIV rates, particularly among young people, in urban areas.