Perspective: Eliminating poverty, the key solution to ending HIV/AIDS by 2030.


In the mid-1980s, the world, and specifically Uganda, faced an unprecedented epidemic as the novel Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) emerged, claiming lives, creating orphans, and hindering progress with no cure or treatment in sight.

Uganda has made significant strides in reducing HIV prevalence, incidents, and AIDS-related conditions. However, the recent 2022 report from the Uganda AIDS Commission reveals that over 30,000 new HIV infections, particularly among young people aged 15 to 25, persist.

Despite progress, HIV disproportionately affects young females and women, with an often overlooked root cause being poverty. A 2022 report by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) highlights that 18 million Ugandans live below the poverty line, facing extreme conditions such as a lack of basic needs, inadequate housing, and insufficient funds for a decent quality of life.

Many women and young girls turn to transactional sex due to poverty, a situation they confess was never their initial intention but was driven by dire economic circumstances.

An in-depth analysis of the 2022 UBOS Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index, Uganda Human Development Report by UNDP, and the Multi-Dimensional Vulnerability Report underscores the intertwining relationship between HIV/AIDS and poverty.

To combat this, HIV/AIDS Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) should shift focus to people-centered programs that uplift households from poverty. Initiatives like the "Nabagereka Development Foundation Dreams Project" in Kasanda and Mubende, supporting HIV-negative young girls, serve as examples in communities, addressing period poverty, and lifting them from impoverished conditions.

Governments, bound by a social contract, should prioritize scaling up social uplifting programs to minimize HIV spread and end the epidemic. Uganda's Parish Development Model, Mwoga funds, small business recovery fund, and the agriculture credit facility of the Bank of Uganda must be enforced to transform lives from poverty to a minimum level of wealth that supports well-being.

Uganda's progress against HIV/AIDS owes much to multinational and bilateral partnerships, including support from the United States government, UNAIDS, USAID, CDC, and PEPFAR. However, it is now crucial to redirect more resources and grants towards poverty eradication programs for sustained success in achieving Uganda's Vision 2040, the Africa We Want by 2063, and a sustainable future.

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