Over 800,000 Ugandans die of AIDS


KAMPALA, AFP

Some 838,000 Ugandans have died of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) since it was first diagnosed in a southwestern Ugandan district in 1982, the health ministry said here Thursday.

The ministry’s AIDS Control Program latest report said that 754,200 of those who have died were adults and 83,800 children below the age of 12 years, pointing out that women were the main victims as 411,382 of the adult deaths were women.

According to the report, up to 1,438,000 people in Uganda — over seven percent of Uganda’s population — carry the Human Immuno-Deficiency Virus (HIV), which causes AIDS.

Out of those with the virus, 761,300 are women, 532,900 men and 143,800 children under 12 years.

The report said that in 1999, 112,000 new AIDS cases were reported across Uganda, of whom 54,982 were women, 45,818 men and 11,200 children under 12.

Despite the grim picture, the report said that HIV infection rates from the major surveillance sites continued to decline.

“In major urban areas, where this trend has been observed since 1992, ante-natal prevalence rates have continued to decline respectively from 13.4 percent and 14.2 percent in 1998 to 12.4 percent and 10.5 percent in 1999 at Nsambya and Rubaga, the two major missionary hospitals near the capital, Kampala,” the report said.

“The decline in all these situations continue to be most significant in the young age groups between 15 and 24 years,” it added.

It pointed out, however, that despite the dent on the AIDS epidemic in Uganda, “HIV infection rates are still unacceptably high and there is still need for continued concerted efforts to sustain and improve the existing AIDS prevention and control initiatives.”

It said that talking openly about the disease in Uganda had helped to bring down the rates of infection by over half in the last seven years.