Masaka Association of Persons with Disability Living HIV & Aids-MADIPHA has translated the HIV Prevention and Control Act into Luganda to fight discrimination against people living with HIV/Aids.
The community-based organisation operating in the districts in the greater Masaka sub-region has translated the 2014 HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Act to make it more precise for the local communities and empower them to stand up against any form of discrimination related to HIV and disability.
Dick Bugembe, the Chairperson of MADIPHA says that in addition to its interpretation, the law has been simplified further into bylaws that are localised at the sub-county level, something he says is going to simplify its enforcement.
According to Bugembe, a number of their colleagues have been suffering from different forms of stigma and discrimination based on their HIV status and different forms of disabilities and couldn’t get direct remedies largely because the available law appeared to be intricate for both the victims and the violators in terms of language and interpretation.
He explains that the simplified and translated version of the law, which the different sub-county councils have adopted as their customised bylaws, is going to empower people living with HIV and disabilities because they now have simplified legal reference handbooks that can back them up while seeking services and demanding their rights.
For example, the bylaws emphasise the need for equal access to social services, the protection of all persons from any form of discrimination, and, in more specific terms, the penalties that await violators.
Bugembe is optimistic that the simplified bylaws will also enhance the levels of awareness regarding disability rights and protection of people living with HIV among lower local council leaders, who apparently are less concerned. The bylaws have so far been adopted in Kyesiiga, Kyannamukaaka sub-counties in Masaka district and Lwengo, and Kisseka Sub-counties in Lwengo district.
Similarly, it was also passed as an ordinance to be enforced in Lukaya Town Council, Kalungu district, and Rakai district. Bugembe says that they are engaging more local council leaders in the area to deliberate on the bylaws in their councils for possible ratification, arguing that this will support the United Nations aspiration to end the HIV epidemic by the year 2030.
Richard Musisi, a human rights activist, says that the effective enforcement of the bylaws right from the sub-county will help to eliminate the barriers to access to HIV-related healthcare services, hence improving adherence to treatment.
Gordon Mayanja, the LC 3 Chairperson of Kyesiiga Sub-county in Masaka district, says that their council debated and adopted the bylaw after the leaders were made to appreciate its significance in eliminating HIV and providing much-needed support to the victims.
He says that as leaders, they accepted to serve as examples in the campaign to end any form of discrimination against people living with HIV and promote disability inclusivity in their area.