AFRICAN ARGUMENTS | Alice McCool & Brian MutebiÂ |Â In an informal settlement in central Kampala, Yusuf Byaruhanga sits within the faded pastel walls of a school. With his walking stick resting next to his chair, the 63-year-old talks openly about the fact he is HIV-positive.
â€œMost men fear shame, stigma and discrimination, or losing their job, so they conceal their status,â€� he says. â€œSome donâ€™t see the benefit of coming out as positive.â€�
Byaruhanga is part of a â€œpositive living groupâ€� whose members support each other, share experiences and educate the wider community about HIV and sexual health. They have even started a small business together making and selling crafts.
This group is part of a movement inÂ UgandaÂ that has helped to destigmatise the disease, but even individuals like Byaruhanga still uphold some less-than-progressive views. Asked whether it is important to disclose oneâ€™s HIV-positive status to potential sexual partners so they can give informed consent, he brushes away the suggestion. â€œIf a woman loves you, they will sleep with you regardless of your status,â€� he says.
These kinds of attitudes are important. Although HIV rates continue to decrease in Uganda, it is still significantly more prevalent among women than men. According to a 2016-17Â national survey, 7.6% of women are living with HIV compared to 4.7% of men. This disparity is particularly alarming among 15-24 years old for whom the disease is four times higher in females than males.
â€” African Arguments (@africaarguments) May 16, 2018
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