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Uganda Releases Strategy To Reduce HIV Infections; Activists Question Country's Ability To Meet Goals

“In response to rising HIV prevalence, Uganda’s government has announced a strategy to reduce new HIV infections by up to 30 percent by 2015, but activists have cast doubt on its ability to achieve this ambitious goal,” PlusNews reports. “In August, the Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC) released a revised National HIV Prevention Strategy aimed at ‘increasing the adoption of safer sexual behavior and reduction of risk-taking behavior, attaining critical coverage of effective HIV prevention service, creating a sustainable enabling environment that mitigates the underlying structural drivers of the epidemic, re-engaging leadership and energizing coordination of HIV prevention, and improving strategic information on HIV prevention,'” the news service writes. “The Ministry of Health also plans to improve the quality and coverage of HIV counseling and testing, increase condom use, fast-track the rollout of safe male circumcision to reach 4.2 million men by 2015, expand antiretroviral treatment as HIV prevention, and increase the coverage of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) services from 52 percent to 75 percent,” PlusNews notes.

“However, HIV experts are skeptical about the government’s ability and commitment to achieve these ambitious goals. For instance, a voluntary medical male circumcision program launched in 2010 is moving slower than anticipated due to funding and health system challenges,” PlusNews states. “According to Stella Alamo-Talisuna, the executive director of the [non-governmental organization (NGO)] Reach Out Mbuya Parish HIV/AIDS Initiative, one of the main problems with Uganda’s HIV prevention strategy is its neglect of the most vulnerable populations,” such as men who have sex with men (MSM) and sex workers, the news service writes. “Experts say the country’s failure to fund health care will also hurt the plan, and criticized the continued reliance on foreign funding for HIV/AIDS,” PlusNews adds (9/12).

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