- A new comprehensive report has established that carriers of HIV/AIDS in Uganda’s northern war zone are facing significant difficulties in accessing assistance such as counselling, treatment and support.
Issued by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) today, the report which focuses on the comprehensive mapping of HIV/AIDS among Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in northern Ugandan districts of Gulu, Amuru, Kitgum, Pader, Lira, Oyam and Apac, concurs that it remains a significant problem for the authorities and supporting organisations on the ground to give care and support to orphans, vulnerable children and people living with HIV/AIDS.
The districts have been mostly affected by 20 years of conflict between the Ugandan government and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). An estimated 1.4 million IDPs still live in camps in the areas.
IOM says aid agencies have been confronted with the problems of overwhelming numbers of people needing help and limited resources and capacity to respond to the needs.
The report adds that people living with HIV/AIDS in the camps lack access to information on HIV/AIDS services and those who need such services don’t know where to go.
The report also shows evidence of gaps in referral systems and an inequitable geographical distribution of services in the internally displaced communities.
Uganda has been seen as a success story in fighting HIV/AIDS with a significant decrease in prevalence rates during the 1990s that stabilized from 2000.
However, UNAIDS says the burden of the AIDS epidemic has grown because there are an estimated one million people living with HIV while another one million children orphaned by the disease in the country.
The HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the north central region of Uganda is one of the highest in the country.
"If a difference is to be made in assisting vulnerable populations affected by HIV and AIDS, there is undoubtedly a need for more resources to be made available and for programmes aimed at giving better access to services among the IDP population," Angela St. Jules, IOM Project Officer in Kampala, says.
"There needs to be better coordination and information flow among all those involved in providing these services to improve systematic referral and access to HIV and AIDS services amongst the IDP populations," she says, adding that IOM is teaming up with the government of Uganda to support the implementation of HIV and AIDS coordination at the district level.
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