The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said on Sunday that the Kabaka Birthday Run had contributed critically to significant HIV awareness and increased testing, even in the face of severe challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Covid-19.
UNAIDS Executive Director Ms Winnie Byanyima said in her address at this year’s Kabaka birthday run that there has been an increase in testing and a reduction in new HIV infections since the he health-focused event launched into HIV and AIDS awareness three years ago.
UNAIDS works closely with global and national partners to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Kabaka Ronald Mutebi was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for Africa by UNAIDS in 2017 to engage his subjects in containing HIV. The Kabaka has launched an HIV advocacy campaign titled “Men Are Stars – Abaami Munyeenye – aimed at mobilizing men and boys between the ages of 15 and 49 to access HIV services in all 25 Ugandan districts. most affected by the HIV pandemic.
The UNAIDS Fast-Track approach since 2017 has focused on ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. The Fast-Track report: ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 highlights that in Taking this approach, nearly 28 million new HIV infections and 21 million AIDS-related deaths would be averted by 2030.
The new set of targets that should be achieved by 2020 includes achieving 90-90-90. It also highlights the need to focus on the countries, cities and communities most affected by HIV and recommends that resources be focused on areas with the greatest impact.
Uganda’s HIV and AIDS initiative goes through a five-point plan to; Engage men in HIV prevention and turn off the tap on new infections, especially among adolescent girls and young women; accelerate the implementation of Test and Treat and the achievement of the 90-90-90 targets, particularly among men and young people; consolidate progress in eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV; ensuring the financial sustainability of the HIV response; and ensuring institutional effectiveness for a well-coordinated multisectoral response.
In her remarks, Ms Byanyima acknowledged the role played by the annual Kabaka Birthday Run which for the past three years has encouraged men to take the lead in HIV testing.
Referring to current statistics which show that 90 percent of men who tested positive for HIV in several people living in central Uganda are now on treatment compared to around 64 percent five years ago. She pointed out that the Kabaka Run has made considerable progress in responding to the HIV epidemic.
“Men and boys are less likely to get tested for HIV in order to be linked to treatment services and stay in care – meaning men are more likely to die of AIDS-related illnesses. The Kabaka Birthday Run has contributed to a steep decline in new HIV infections over the past five years – with Buganda region having made the fastest progress in reducing new infections,” said Byanyima.
In addition to testing and treatment, there is an urgent need to end stigma.
Buganda’s Katikkiro, Mr. Charles Peter Mayiga encouraged runners to prevent further infections, get tested, seek treatment or abstain. Sexual intercourse remains the main mode of HIV transmission, with 95% of cases contracting the infection this way.
Currently, HIV prevalence is highest in the central region at 10.4% due to its urbanization and location of the capital city Kampala, which is home to over 1.5 million people according to 2014 government statistics. .
Getting tested for HIV is the only way to know one’s status, Mayiga added, saying regular testing and early diagnosis allow people living with the virus to be treated early and achieve better HIV outcomes. treatment.
“The Kabaka wants a healthy population that can develop and grow coffee. With early and effective treatment, people living with HIV can lead lives no different from others,” the Katikkiro said in a statement. brief speech.
The crowd, which included German Ambassador to Uganda Matthias Schauer among others, patiently waited nearly two hours to begin after gathering as early as 5 a.m. The first runners were reported at 7:56 a.m.
According to Ali Balunywa, Sales and Distribution Manager of Airtel Uganda, the race attracted around 80,000 runners for the half marathon, 10km and 5km races from the palace to the city outskirts and a finish on the palace grounds.