Increased HIV/AIDS rate on the lake shores—quick intervention needed

By Joel Kaguta

Residents at Kayanzi landing site on Lake Edward in Nyakiyumbu sub-county Kasese district have called for a quick deliberate action to curb the HIV/AIDS among the fisher communities in the district.

The fish landing areas are described as being among the hard-to-reach areas of the district with the Health Centre II status are III equipped with no essential HIV/AIDS and TB drugs, a resident at the site Zyan Mabiira said.

According to Mabiira, residents at the fishing site have openly declared themselves as HIV positive but they have to walk tens of kilometers to access the ARV drugs prompting a big number of them to give up.

“The supply of ARVs and TB drugs in our place is untimely and not always on schedule thus leading to a big number of defaulters over the time”. Mabiira said.

Kasese District Health Officer, Dr. Yusufu Baseke confirmed that the rate of the HIV virus prevalence among the fisher communities in the district was more worrying than anywhere else in the area.

The most affected fisher community areas include Kayanzi and Lake Katwe town council along the Lake Edward, Kasenyi, Kahendero, Hamukungu along Lake George and Katunguru along the Kazinga Channel all in Kasese district, Dr Baseke said.

The LCI chairperson for Kayanzi landing site, Kibwana Baluku, said that his office was working in collaboration with other organizations including Baylor International and Kagando hospital in Kisinga town council to curb the spread of the HIV virus.

However, he said that two organizations take the ARVs to Kayanzi fishing village on monthly basis a measure he said was not serving the people who need the service the way it should have been.

But a patient who asked not to be named said that Doses have also always been changed from one drug to another something that has great side affect on their health.

Moses Muhindo, a resident at Kayanzi landing site said that he has been on ARV drugs for the last seven years and said that he feels healthy but complained that the only challenge was walking long distances to get them when the Baylor International and Kagando hospital misses.

Dorothy Musongora Biira attributed the increase of HIV/AIDS among the fisher communities at the site to reckless living of many residents at the site.

Biira said that the commercial sex workers at the site come from different places like Kisinga, Bwera and Kabarole district and are seen other working as bar maids and some have rented rooms at a cost of seven to twenty thousand shillings.

She said that at least four sex workers may decide to rent one room with one mattress and whenever one of them gets a customer, she either asks to go to the lodge or goes to the man’s house.

Kisembo Dekule, the sole owner of Dekule’s Bar and Lodge revealed he at least receive ten to fifteen men at his facility daily.

Soki Kabibi, a sex worker at Kayanzi told a shocking story when she said that most men want to have unprotected sex.

Kabibi however, told this reporter she has never had unprotected sex but declined to have ever tested for HIV.

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A business woman, commonly known as Nyabahasa dealing in salt fish and a resident of Kyavinyonge village in North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo said that she was worried with the way both men and woman at the site behave.

Nyabahasa said that her neighbor brings in other men whenever her husband goes for fishing at night.

Robert Kule a project Coordinator working with Action for Community Development [ACODEV] said that a total of 686 residents in the main fishing areas have openly declared themselves as HIV positive but they have to walk tens of kilometers to access the ARV drugs prompting a big number of them to give up.

Kule who coordinates the ACODEV project called ‘Advocacy for Better Health’ said that a group of NGOs dealing in HIV projects in Kasese district had recently launched a campaign to put pressure on the District Local Government to ensure that Health Centers in the area don’t run out of Antiretroviral and Tuberculosis drugs.

He also said that the concerned NGOs have demanded that the Health Centre IIs in the affected areas be elevated to Health Centre IIIs so that staff is permanently deployed at the units to manage the HIV/AIDS and TB cases.

END.

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