On June 5, 1981, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported a cluster of cases of pneumocystis pneumonia, a very rare condition, in five men in Los Angeles. This was the discovery of a new disease that would be called AIDS. The earliest recognized AIDS case in Uganda was diagnosed in 1982, in Kenya 1983, in Burundi 1984, Botswana 1986, and Ethiopia 1987. Between 1981 and 1983, there were 5,660 AIDS cases in the US compared to only 17 for the entire Africa, suggesting that US was the epicenter and origin of HIV and AIDS. In 1982 the first cases of “slim disease” in Uganda were identified in Rakai District. This disease was not recognized as AIDS until 1985. AIDS is now a serious public health problem for Ugandans.
In 2019, an estimated 1.4 million people were living with HIV, with an infection rate of 1000 people every week and an estimated 23,000 Ugandans died of AIDS-related illnesses Uganda has made significant progress in fighting HIV and AIDS during the period 2010-2018. However, the magnitude of the epidemic remains high. Uganda still has 1,000 new infections and 500 deaths every week. HIV prevalence peaks at 14.0% among men aged 45 to 49 and 12.9% among women aged 35 to 39. Among young adults, there is a disparity in HIV prevalence by sex. HIV prevalence is almost four times higher among females than males aged 15 to 19 and 20 to 24. HIV prevalence is nearly three times higher in men and women aged 20-24 compared to those aged 15-19. Among adults aged 15 to 64, the prevalence of HIV varies geographically across Uganda, ranging from 3.1% in West Nile to 8.0% in Central.
The epidemic is firmly established in the general population. As of 2018, the estimated HIV prevalence among adults (aged 15 to 49) stood at 5.7%. Women are disproportionately affected, with 8.8% of adult women living with HIV compared to 4.3% of men. The following are the major groups have been infected and affected by HIV/AIDS in Uganda; Adolescent girls and young women, Sex workers, Men who have sex with men (MSM), People who inject drugs (PWID), Fishing communities, Personnel in Uniform among others
The Government of Uganda has openly addressed HIV/AIDS since the late 1980s, and this has opened the doors to the creation of innovative services for education, testing, and counselling and care for AIDS patients. Both the government and nongovernmental organizations have developed extensive HIV prevention programs including but not limited to Condom availability and use, HIV education and approach to sex education, Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT), Voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC), Access to PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) which have contributed to decline in the HIV seroprevalence in Uganda. This has seen People Living with HIV enrolled on ART by Dec 2018 rising from 275,700 in 2001 to 1,167,107 in 2018 and between 2010 and 2018, a 59% reduction in AIDS-related deaths.
In conclusion prevalence of Viral Load Suppression in Uganda of nearly 60% demonstrates that the national HIV program has made considerable progress in responding to its HIV epidemic.
- Baryarama, F.; Bunnell, R. E.; Ransom, R. L.; Ekwaru, J. P.; Kalule, J.; Tumuhairwe, E. B.; Mermin, J. H. (2004). “Using HIV voluntary counselling and testing data for monitoring the Uganda HIV epidemic, 1992–2000”
- Uganda AIDS Commission, Annual Report 1996 (Kampala) Parkhurst, Justin O., “HIV Prevention Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa: the Ugandan Experience” (Ph.D.)., University of Oxford, 2000)
- Presidential Fast -Track Initiative on Ending HIVAnd Aids in Uganda Fact Sheet 2019
- Uganda Population-Based HIV Impact Assessment UPHIA 2016–2017