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Uganda was one of the first countries in sub-Saharan Africa to experience the devastating effects of HIV and AIDS. By the end of 2001, the country had experienced almost one million AIDS-related deaths. Today, improved treatment is making it possible for people to live with the infection, and HIV is no longer a death sentence. Nevertheless, more than 1.3 million people living with HIV in Uganda still often suffer from stigmatisation and social exclusion, and almost a quarter of them do not have access to treatment.

Uganda is, however, making progress in its fight against HIV: While the national HIV prevalence rate among sexually active people aged 15-49 had risen to 7.3 per cent between 2006 and 2010, it declined to 6 per cent in 2017. It is therefore important to continue supporting efforts in the fight against the epidemic to achieve Uganda’s goal to end AIDS by 2030, as it still poses a great challenge to sustainable development and social progress. An estimated 227 new infections occur every day, and some 50 of these are amongst girls aged 15-24. A quarter of girls below the age of 18 are either pregnant or already having a baby, indicating that HIV shouldn’t be dealt with in isolation, but needs to be viewed in a wider socio-cultural context that needs to include sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender issues disadvantaging women and girls.

The Institute has also since taken an initiative to support government efforts of combatting the deadly scourge by partnering with health centres and professionals to offer free HIV testing to student’s especially new entrants, guidance and counselling and sensitization campaigns. This in a way has been a good protection and encouragement to students especially girls as they feel considered and valued as their male counterparts.