Two days after the commemoration of International World Aids Day, the Ministry of Health and USAID agencies launched a national HIV risk perception campaign dubbed TIME UP HIV.
Uganda has made significant progress in the HIV pandemic response! Amidst COVID-19 disruptions and by the end of 2020, 91% of adults living with HIV in Uganda knew their status, of whom 95% were on treatment and 90% of those on treatment achieved viral suppression. The new HIV infections had declined by 61% from 94,00 in 2010 to 38,000 in 2020.
The AIDS related deaths had declined from 89,200 to 22,000 during the same period. However, Uganda is specifically concerned about the high burden of new infections in certain sub populations (Pregnant women, children and adolescent girls, men, and key populations. As a result, over 1.4 million people are living with HIV of whom only about 1.32 million have been identified and enrolled onto antiretroviral therapy. To further consolidate and sustain these gains, Uganda revised and updated its health sector HIV strategic plan (HSHSP) 2018-23 to guide the public health response to the HIV pandemic.
Considering the contribution of Social Behavioral Change Communication (SBCC), in averting new infections, the Ugandan health ministry updated the communication strategy 2021-2026 to provide standard communication guidance on promotion, demand, generation and advocacy for the HIV interventions outlined in the HSHSP. The strategy prescribes suitable communication approaches to promote demand and up take of biomedical interventions including HIV testing services, PMTCT, condom promotion and distribution, safe male circumcision, programming for adolescent girls and young women, programming for key and priority populations, ARV’s for treatment and prevention including PEP and PREP among others.
Many campaigns have been developed to combat HIV and it is noted, by research, that young people do not fear HIV anymore, probably due to the positive strides made over time and the new improved treatment realities.
TIME UP HIV is aligned to the UNAIDS goal of ending the epidemic by 2030 and achieving the 95-95- 95 HIV treatment target. The campaign actualizes the national policies and guidelines on HIV prevention, care and treatment informed by insights from collaborative research information with key stakeholders and target audiences.
The campaign addresses risky behavior amongst target audiences, the general population’s involvement, and contribution towards combating HIV and the 2030 goals. It addresses priorities around the HIV cascade, HIV treatment services, prevention, care, treatment and GBV prevention.
Goal of the Campaign: Contribute to the reduction of new HIV infections and increase the proportion of PLHIV adhering to HIV treatment guidelines. Objectives of the Campaign:
To raise HIV risk perception among high-risk audiences, increase the proportion of people at high risk of HIV accessing HIV testing services and to motivate those who test HIV negative to adopt and sustain HIV prevention practices and services.
It also seeks to motivate those who test HIV positive to start and adhere to HIV treatment. As well as Equip health service providers with knowledge and skills to offer client centered HIV services.
The “Time Up” concept, as is with the synonymous “sports TIME OUT,” is meant to create a movement that feels uncomfortable with irresponsible behavior, a movement of people that seek to address individual, community, structural barriers that might impede the goal of ending HIV by 2030.
The motivation is to persuade everyone to do what is in their means to end HIV by 2030 whether they are HIV positive or negative.
In her campaign launch speech while addressing HIV stakeholders today, the Minister of Health reechoed the fact that, “The catch phrase Time up HIV introduces a sense of urgency while inspiring hope that ending AIDS is attainable through concerted efforts involving a multiplicity of players.”
The campaign is a comprehensive 360 drive that will run for the next 6 – 12 months with ongoing adaptions based on lessons learned from implementation.