Sex for food increasing HIV infections among Batwa in Rubanda district

HIV-AIDS testing
HIV testing

Rubanda, Uganda | URN | The rapid increase of HIV/AIDS among the Batwa community in Muko and Bufundi sub counties of Rubanda district is a result of trading sex-for-food, this publication has learnt.

An HIV testing and counselling camp organised by Kabale District Orphans and Vulnerable Children Living with HIV/AIDS [KADOLHA], a Non governmental organization offering health and livelihood support to the Batwa in partnership with Muko health centre IV found that at least 50 members of the Batwa community contracted HIV between December 2019 and December 2020.

KADOLHA Executive Director, Amos Tugumisirize revealed that in 2019, they were offering relief aid to only three people living with HIV but since then, the number has increased to 51 people in Muko and Bufundi sub-counties alone.

He attributes the rapid increase of HIV infections to extreme poverty and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr Twikirize said a section of Batwa women were engaging in extra-marital sexual affairs to provide for their families because their husbands are often stationed in bars drinking alcohol.

Robert Ngabirano, the KADOLHA focal person in the Batwa community, who is also a Mutwa and resident of Rwamahano village said Batwa women were selling sex to bakiga men at between Shillings 4,000 and 5,000.

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The Rubanda District Health Officer, Dr. Abdon Birungi said most of Batwa have declined to embrace HIV testing and counseling while those who tested positive have poor adherence to treatment.

Dr. Vanansio Byamukama Kakogoso, a medical doctor from Muko health centre IV asked the Batwa to stop self-stigmatization and always seek medical services in time to avoid extreme cases.