His Majesty King Oyo launched an HIV testing initiative in Tooro Kingdom to spearhead and amplify the “Test and Treat to end AIDS in Tooro, Uganda and Africa” initiative that the King is spearheading as a UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador. The King kicked-off the initiative by personally and publicly testing for HIV.
King Oyo urged his people to embrace and utilize the available free HIV testing and counseling services.
There are many advantages of testing for HIV. HIV testing is an essential gateway to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services. HIV testing is central to the achievement of the 90-90-90 targets endorsed in the 2016 United Nations Political Declaration on Ending AIDS – King Oyo
- HIV prevalence. A survey conducted by the Uganda Population-Based HIV Impact Assessment between August 2016 and March 2017 indicates that HIV/Aids prevalence in the Tooro Sub-region has reduced from 8.3 per cent in 2015 to 5.7 per cent in 2017.
- Mobilisation. The Kingdom has outlined several initiatives, including using a council of opinion leaders to sensitise and mobilize the population to access and utilize existing HIV and SRH Services.
The HIV prevalence in Tooro Sub-region in western Uganda is worrying, leaders have observed.
As an urgent intervention measure, however, Tooro Kingdom has designed a campaign aimed at curbing the deadly disease. The Tooro Kingdom Deputy Health Minister, who is also the Kabarole District Health Officer, Dr Richard Mugahi, said every week, the district registers 180 new HIV infections.
“In Tooro, the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is still high and as a kingdom, we need to ensure that by 2020, no new infections are identified. This will be achieved through the test and treat policy,” Dr Mugahi said.
The sub-region comprises Kabarole, Kyegegwa, Bunyangabu, Kamwenge, Kyenjojo and Ntoroko districts. Dr Mugahi said the number of people living with HIV/AIDS in Tooro has increased from 67,574 patients in 2015 to 83,731 patients in 2017. “We have also enrolled more people on antiretroviral therapy in health facilities from 60,259 in 2015 to 83,778 in 2017,” he said.
In one of the activities to mark the 23rd Coronation Anniversary for King Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV that was celebrated on Saturday, 8th September 2018, the Kingdom organised the HIV/AIDS symposium aimed at devising means of fighting the HIV/AIDS scourge. The symposium was organised under the theme; “engaging men in the fight against HIV/AIDS, the role of cultural institutions”.
The symposium resolved to fight gender-based violence in families, which was highlighted as one of the factors that has resulted in the spread of HIV/AIDS. They agreed to package and disseminate HIV messages through music, dance and drama and engaging more men in testing, especially the boda boda riders and truck drivers who they pointed out as more vulnerable. The intervention for an free AIDS generation in Tooro Kingdom will involve having a weekly HIV/AIDS test for all truck drivers, establishing voluntary male medical circumcision and using assisted partner notification.
The Tooro Kingdom Prime Minister, Mr Bernard Tungwako, said the campaign will involve the use of the newly inaugurated Tooro Kingdom Council of Opinion Leaders to raise awareness on HIV prevention and mobilize people to access and utilize the HIV and Sexual Reproductive Health Information and Services in order to reduce new HIV infections and eliminate mother to child transmission of HIV in Tooro Kingdom by 2020.. On 16th August 2018, His Majesty King Oyo inaugurated “Isaazi Ly’Obukama Bwa Tooro”, an inclusive platform and a Council of Opinion Leaders comprised of more than 4,800 officials with the aim of restoring the cultural values.
During the HIV/AIDS Symposium, the King also signed a Declaration to use the Tooro Kingdom structures to mobilize men and boys in the Kingdom to embrace HIV prevention and treatment services to attain epidemic control by 2020.
On his 23rd Coronation Anniversary Celebrations held at the Royal Palace of Tooro in Fort Portal on Saturday, 8th September 2018, King Oyo said the HIV scourge has affected the development of Tooro Kingdom. However the King was encouraged by the slow drop in the HIV prevalence rates and committed as a UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for ending AIDS to work with the district, health partners, civil society organisations, central government and development partners in the fight against HIV and AIDS in order to achieve an AIDS free generation.
King Oyo directed all Kingdom Leaders to mobilise subjects to go for HIV testing and if they test positive, they should be enrolled on treatment immediately.