The latest results of the 2016 Uganda Population HIV Impact Assessment (UPHIA) have revealed major progress in the war against HIV/AIDS in Uganda with a highlight on the decline in the number of new infections.
The UPHIA 2016 report that was released by the Ministry of Health this week indicates that due to more people being enrolled on ARV treatment, nearly 60 percent of all HIV positive people have suppressed viral load.
Virus Load Suppression (VLS) is a technical term used to describe a situation where the amount of the virus in someone’s blood is reduced to almost undetectable level due to treatment. According to health experts being on ARV treatment, reduces the chances of spreading the disease to someone else by up to 95%.
The increase in the number of people with VLS is one of the key targets of the UNAIDS 90 90 90 as it means that fewer HIV+ people will be able to pass on the disease and there reverse the trend of the disease.
The UNAIDS estimates that with increased treatment, by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status. By 2020, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy. By 2020, 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.
According to the Ministry of Health, HIV+ persons with viral load suppression; ‘Live longer, have fewer complications due to HIV, and are less likely to transmit the virus to others.’
“UPHIA showed that adults aged 15-49 years had a VLS of 57.4%. This finding shows that with support from development partners such as PEPFAR, the Global Fund and other programs, the government of Uganda’s HIV programme is having an impact and making great progress toward the UNAIDS and national goal of having population level VLS of at least 73% by 2020,” the ministry of health said in a statement accompanying the results of the study.
Because of the scaling up of treatment as announced last year, more than a million HIV+ persons, are now receiving ARVs.
Dr. Joshua Musinguzi, the Manager of the Aids Control Programme in the Ministry of Health says that there about 1.3m people, 1,024,000 are currently receiving treatment.
With the estimated total number of people currently living with the disease, it means that 300,000 people are not receiving treatment. Men aged, 45-49 years, have been singled out as the ones frustrating the move to decisively defeat HIV by refusing to go for testing as well as refusing to be circumcised.
As a result, men in that age category, the UPHIA study found out, have the highest prevalence of HIV among all age groups.
The results have been described as a major success especially in terms of the recent scaling up of antiretroviral treatment of all HIV+ patients.
Last year, the ministry of health with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced universal access to ARVs for all HIV positive persons.