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Kabaka to champion campaign to mobilise men to test for HIV and access treatment

By Natalie Chifamba, UNAIDS

The Kabaka (King) of the Buganda, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, embarked on a partnership with UNAIDS to mobilise men in the kingdom to test for HIV and access treatment when necessary, as part of activities to mark Buganda Health Week on 4th March 2017 at Buvuma Island.

UNAIDS recognizes that cultural leaders such as the King of Buganda can influence norms, beliefs and customs that impact on men’s access to HIV services.

In the Central 1 and 2 regions, in which the Buganda Kingdom is situated, HIV prevalence stands at 10.6% and 9.0% respectively above the national prevalence of 7.3%. Estimates for 2014 indicate that Central 1 and 2 regions account for almost half (42 000) of Uganda’s annual estimate of 83,000 new infections.

UNAIDS and the Buganda Kingdom have launched the “Gwanga Mujje: One million men” campaign to mobilize one million men to access HIV Counselling and Testing as an entry - point into HIV treatment and care. Their leadership is expected to facilitate access by entire families.

At the launch of the campaign, UNAIDS Director for the Regional Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa, Professor Sheila Tlou, conferred upon the King the title of National

UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for Male Engagement to End AIDS in the Buganda Kingdom. The Queen of Buganda, was also identified as an important influence in the HIV and AIDS response in the Buganda Kingdom.

In the Eastern and Southern African region, men are being left behind in the AIDS response. Evidence shows that men are testing for HIV in far fewer numbers, fewer are on treatment and as a result, the majority of AIDS-related deaths occur among men. Health systems, which often prioritise women’s health, can be inaccessible or unfriendly to men and boys. Deeply-held beliefs about what it means to be a man often prevent men from seeking healthcare services before they fall seriously ill.

UN Agencies in Uganda