Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 October 2017, 14:39 GMT

Uganda: Situation of people who have AIDS or are HIV positive; public attitudes and treatment, government response, availability of treatment, etc. (2005)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Ottawa
Publication Date 7 October 2005
Citation / Document Symbol UGA100569.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Uganda: Situation of people who have AIDS or are HIV positive; public attitudes and treatment, government response, availability of treatment, etc. (2005), 7 October 2005, UGA100569.E, available at: [accessed 17 October 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Situation of people with HIV/AIDS

In Uganda, the infection rate of HIV/AIDS fell from thirty per cent in 1992 to six per cent in 2005 (Freedom House 11 Aug. 2005; Dollars and Sense 1 Jan. 2005). Although some scientists question these numbers, it is recognized that "Uganda has secured the most dramatic turnaround in AIDS of any country to date" (ibid.). Nonetheless, epidemic conditions still prevail, as 1.1 to 1.5 million people live with HIV/AIDS (Freedom House 11 Aug. 2005; AP 21 July 2005; HRW March 2005, 6).

Uganda's population includes approximately two million orphans, a statistic linked, in part, to HIV/AIDS (Country Reports 2004 28 Feb. 2005, Sec. 5). According to some estimates, HIV/AIDS is responsible for up to one million of these orphans ( 18 Aug. 2005; HRW March 2005, 6).

Meeting Point is a non-governmental organization that helps students who live with HIV/AIDS (The Monitor 14 June 2005). According to the organization, pastors of born-again Christian groups interfere with the work of Meeting Point and discourage congregation members from taking their antiretroviral medications for HIV/AIDS treatment (ibid.).

As well, a Human Rights Watch report quoted in The Monitor indicated that women are afraid or do not have the resources to be tested for HIV/AIDS or to seek treatment due to the potential for a husband to become violent in response to the suggestion that his wife wishes to be tested or treated (ibid. 12 Apr. 2005).

When husbands are substantially older than their wives and die of AIDS, widows are left infected and without resources to afford treatment since the husband's own family members often retake possession of his assets upon his death (Dollars and Sense 1 Jan. 2005; The Monitor 12 Apr. 2005).

Government response and availability of treatment

Founded in 1992, the Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC), composed of 18 members appointed by the president of Uganda, "exists to provide leadership in coordination of HIV/AIDS programs and activities of all stakeholders in Uganda through advocacy, joint planning, monitoring and evaluation for the eventual elimination of the AIDS scourge in Uganda" (UAC n.d.).

According to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), the difficulties that characterize the health care system, specifically "historical underdevelopment, attacks on infrastructure, and the flight of many health workers," make treatment available for only those with sufficient financial resources; as well, information on the prevention of HIV/AIDS and on Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) has not been made available (Aug. 2005).

The NRC specifies that "[VCT], treatment, condoms, and reproductive health [service delivery are] concentrated in towns and specific accessible camps" (Aug. 2005). Access to these services in the conflict areas and by internally displaced persons is limited (NRC Aug. 2005). Conflict areas have an HIV/AIDS prevalence rate that is two times higher than in the rest of the country (ibid.).

A free AIDS treatment clinic was inaugurated by the first lady of Uganda, Janet Museveni, in Kampala in August 2005 ( 18 Aug. 2005). A total of eight similar clinics offer free AIDS treatment operate in Masaka, Soroti, Mpigi, Mbale, Rakai and the Rakai district (ibid.).

Dr. Jesse Kagimba, advisor to the president of Uganda regarding HIV/AIDS, indicated that 65,000 people were receiving antiretroviral treatment in July 2005 (exceeding a year-end goal of 60,000) (AP 21 July 2005). A procurement of 7.2 million dollars' worth of antiretroviral treatment was made just prior to May 2005 to cater to 20,000 people through 104 health centres all over Uganda (UN 31 May 2005). However, the Associated Press reported that the Uganda AIDS Commission stated that 200,000 people need the life-prolonging treatment (AP 21 July 2005).

Drugs for children are up to six times more expensive than those given to adults, and they are accessible only in urban centres (The East African 26 Apr. 2005). Health workers are ill-equipped to deal with HIV/AIDS infected children (ibid.). Typically, infected children do not live beyond two years of age, and seventy-five per cent of them die before they turn five (ibid.).

According to the UN special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, the United States government's emphasis on promoting abstinence, coupled with its cutbacks to funding for condoms, has led to a condom shortage in Uganda (AP 30 Aug. 2005; see also HRW Jan. 2005; ibid. March 2005, 1). The Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which "operates 10 free AIDS treatment clinics in Uganda in conjunction with the Ugandan Ministry of Health," in August 2005 pledged a donation of one million condoms (AP 30 Aug. 2005). While Ugandan officials dismissed the claim that there was a condom shortage (ibid.), on 6 September 2005, Xinhua announced that the Ugandan government had increased its importation of condoms from 80 million to 120 million due to [translation] "a sharp increase in condom use."

On 24 August 2005, the Global Fund announced the suspension of a 200 million dollar grant to the government of Uganda (The Monitor 25 Aug. 2005; UN 25 Aug. 2005), after a review of the Project Management Unit of the Ugandan Ministry of Health provided "evidence of serious mismanagement" (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Associated Press (AP). 30 August 2005. "A condom shortage in Uganda has prompted..." (Factiva)
_____. 21 July 2005. Henry Wasswa. "Uganda Exceeds Target on Providing Free HIV/AIDS Treatment to Patients." (Factiva)

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2004. 28 February 2005. "Uganda." United States Department of State. Washington, DC. [Accessed 13 Sept. 2005]

Dollars and Sense [Boston]. 1 January 2005. Jessica Weisberg. "ABCs of AIDS Prevention." (Factiva)

The East African [Nairobi]. 25 April 2005. David Kaiza. "Aids Treatment for Uganda's Children." (Factiva)

Freedom House. 11 August 2005. "Uganda." Freedom in the World 2005. [Accessed 13 Sept. 2005]

Human Rights Watch (HRW). March 2005. Vol. 17, No. 4 (A). "The Less They Know, the Better: Abstinence-Only HIV/AIDS Programs in Uganda." [Accessed 13 Sept. 2005]
_____. January 2005. "Uganda." World Report 2005. [Accessed 13 Sept. 2005]

The Monitor [Kampala]. 25 August 2005. Timothy Kalyegira. "2005: Worst Year for Museveni?" (Factiva)

_____ . 14 June 2005. Emma Masumbuko. "Pastors Undermining HIV/AIDS Treatment, Amecea Bishop Told." (Factiva)
_____. 12 April 2005. Kakaire A. Kirunda. "Harsh Husbands Bar Wives from Aids Treatment." (Factiva) 18 August 2005. "HIV/AIDS Therapy; Uganda First Lady, Foundation President Dedicate AIDS Clinic in Kampala Market." (Factiva)

Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). 10 August 2005. "Profile of Internal

Displacement: Uganda." [Accessed 13 Sept. 2005]

Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC). N.d. National AIDS Documentation and Information Center (NADIC). "HIV/AIDS Coordination." [Accessed 13 Sept. 2005]

United Nations (UN). 25 August 2005. UN News Service. "UN-backed Global Fund to Fight Aids, TB, Malaria Suspends Grants to Uganda." (Factiva)
_____. 31 May 2005. UN Integrated Regional Information Networks. "Uganda: Thousands to Benefit from Aids Drug Procurement." (Factiva)

Xinhua. 6 September 2005. "La demande de préservatifs augmente en Ouganda." Jeune Afrique/L'Intelligent. [Accessed 13 Sept. 2005]

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet sites, including: Afrique-Express, Afrol News, Amnesty International,, Jeune Afrique/L'Intelligent, Ministry of Health of Uganda.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

Search Refworld