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Sexual Reproductive Health & Rights/HIV/AIDS

As COVID-19 disrupts health systems and affects human health globally, it is crucial to protect those most impacted by COVID-19, sustain gains made to address other infectious diseases, and maintain people’s access to life-saving health services. Critical priorities during the COVID-19 pandemic include ensuring continuity of treatment and support for viral suppression among people living with HIV (PLHIV), continuing to identify undiagnosed individuals and ensure their prompt enrollment on treatment, and helping those who are at risk of HIV acquisition remain HIV negative.

Members of key populations including sex workers, men who have sex with men (MSM), people who inject drugs, and transgender people―are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. People in prisons and other closed settings face unique issues related to HIV service delivery and COVID-19 and yet these have not been addressed in the fight against COVID-19.

Young women lack the assertiveness required to protect themselves from risky situations. As a result, they have engaged in transactional sexual relationships (sex for food or other assistance or services), have been raped and defiled, exposing them to HIV and AIDS. There is an increased number of child mothers some of whom formerly ex-prostitutes; some are victims of early pregnancy and marriage as a result of poverty. Most of these girls and young mothers have psychological problems with limited means of livelihood, support and access to education. Not many humanitarian organizations are targeting economic solutions for these girls.

Over 50% of girls and women in our communities are  teenage mothers, widows or single mothers who have been chronically unemployed; a situation which has  naturalized unemployment and discouraged them from making serious attempts to find employment, gain valuable skills or engage in entrepreneurial efforts. HIV/AIDS remains a very significant threat, as is drug and alcohol abuse. The Ugandan Government’s 2017 Youth Health Risk Survey indicates that 10% of them already being in a state of drunkenness on a weekly basis; which exposes them to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) unwanted pregnancies, HIV infections and the viscous cycle of poverty is maintained. It’s this situation that needs to be urgently addressed.

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