World AIDS Day: Walking the walk for HIV/AIDS Epidemic
Uganda the pearl of Africa celebrates World AIDS Day together with the rest of the World by Walking the walk for HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Kampala and Uganda as a whole.
Uganda’s progress towards ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic has steadily improved over years with a drop in adult HIV/AIDS prevalence rates from 6.2% in 2017 to 5.8% in 2019 as per the UNAIDS country data.
However, there is still work to be done! With the HIV incidence at 2.61 per 1,000 population and new infections at 53,000 annually there are gaps to be closed. In 2019, over 21,000 deaths were due to AIDS in Uganda!
In order to fast track the realization of epidemic control by 2030, there is the 95–95–95 UNAIDS strategy that speaks to 95% of people living with HIV will know their HIV status; 95% of people diagnosed with HIV will be on antiretroviral treatment (ART), and 95% of people on ART will have viral load suppression (VLS).
Uganda’s performance against this ambitious strategy is still below the targets with 89% of HIV-positive people aware of their status, 84% of HIV positives being on ART treatment, and of these only 75% having VLS.
There exists a myriad of challenges along the HIV treatment cascade including stigma, distant health facilities, lack of access to health information and knowledge on service location points, and personal attributes like forgetfulness leading to poor adherence for those on treatment.
The need to be more innovative to cause a paradigm shift is more evident than before if the remaining gap is to be closed which calls for a change in the way of delivering HIV/AIDS health services.
The opportunity digital health offers in bridging the gaps in health information access, driving demand for HIV/AIDS service uptake, improving adherence to treatment among others can no longer be underestimated.
The Medical Concierge Group (TMCG) a private digital health company headquartered in Kampala-Uganda has for the past 7 years building a track record of integrating digital tools and interventions along the HIV/AIDS treatment cascade and a few use cases are highlighted.
To drive demand for HIV testing so as to increase proportions of HIV positives that know their status, TMCG operates a 24/7 medical call center that coordinates referrals and linkages to health facilities for HIV testing.