The Masaka District Health Department is trying to stop the spread of HIV in the area by putting in place programmes just for teens.
The HIV status report for the Masaka district for 2021 says that of the 359 new people who signed up for HIV treatment and care, 17 new infections were found in girls between the ages of 15 and 19.
Doctor Faith Nakiyimba, the District Health Officer, says that they are very worried about new HIV infections in children who are not thought to have gotten the virus at birth. This means that they need to focus on preventing and treating HIV in adolescents.
She claims that the newly infected adolescents have a sexual network that has yet to be effectively traced in order for them to be on antiretroviral therapy.
She says that they have decided to focus more on teen-centered interventions, like peer-to-peer education and counselling for testing that is geared toward teens, in order to get more teens to get HIV-related health care.
Along with new HIV cases, the district also saw an increase in unintended teen pregnancies, which accounted for 12 percent of all births in the district in 2021.
Doctor Nakiyimba says the challenge at hand demands that HIV care and sexual and reproductive health service providers both in public and private not-for-profit spheres adjust their operations to pay a lot of attention to safeguarding young people as they have done to adults.
Ponsiano Sserwadda, the General Secretary of Positive Youth Under Action, a local HIV prevention youth advocacy group that works under Uganda Cares, confirms that youth need special attention when it comes to access to testing and care services and information flow so that they are fully covered.
He is optimistic that if packaged and implemented well, the preferred adolescent-specific intervention will help to improve awareness among young people and improve adherence to treatment. Luganda Bite
Last week, Doctor Richard Mugahi, the Assistant Commissioner in charge of Reproductive and Infant Health at the Ministry of Health, also hinted at plans to train young people to work as community volunteers who can point their colleagues to where they can access key sexual reproductive health services.