Accessing HIV treatment in northern Uganda
Grace Acan is one of several hundred people with HIV who benefited from critical antiretroviral drugs supplied by the Northern Uganda Malaria, AIDS and Tuberculosis (NUMAT) project. For Grace, who lived in the Koch Goma Internally Displaced Peoples Camp in Amuru District, NUMAT’s support was life saving.
In Uganda, access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) for people with HIV is limited and usually only available in a few high-level facilities located in urban settings. For this reason, NUMAT focused its efforts on providing antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) in remote areas, to ensure that people living with HIV (PLHIV) have access to the treatment they need.
NUMAT’s efforts to ensure the availability of ARVs included human resource capacity building, supplying ARVs to supported facilities, providing CD4 tests for better clinical management, furniture to store client files, and constant technical supervision to guarantee quality service.
“Finally, having had enough, in 2007 I went to (NUMAT-supported) Koch Goma Health Center III where I was retested for HIV, and this time my experience was entirely different. After my positive test, I received good information and was started on ART immediately,” says Grace with relief. “I was also screened for tuberculosis but did not test positive, thank goodness.”
NUMAT is a five-year USAID-funded program that was designed in consultation with the Ministry of Health, Uganda AIDS Commission, international agencies, non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, and people living with HIV (PLHIV) networks. Implemented by John Snow, Inc. in partnership with AIDS Information Centre (AIC), World Vision, local governments, and civil society partners, the program is expanding access to and utilization of HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria prevention, treatment, care and support activities in Northern Uganda. In five years of implementation, NUMAT has been able to expand the geographic coverage and populations served by strengthening local government responses, expanding the role of communities in planning implementation and monitoring activities, and building upon existing networks.
Life for Grace, however, continues to have its challenges. Her husband, who is negative, wants to have more children and insists on having unprotected sex with her, despite the risk of infection. To mitigate this challenge, NUMAT supported the couple to have intense counseling sessions on HIV prevention.
Throughout the project, NUMAT contributed to the enrollment of 13,329 new clients on ARV treatment (5,019 males and 8,310 females), of whom 734 were children below 14 years of age. As of December 2011, 15,590 clients were receiving their ARVs.
|Related Project: Uganda NUMAT (Northern Uganda Malaria AIDS & Tuberculosis) Program (2006-2012)|