Uganda/ART: Developing programmes to assist in HIV care

In 20 years, almost a million Ugandans have died of AIDS, according to an MOH report published last October (according to the 2002 census, Uganda has 24 million inhabitants).

Today, there an estimated 600,000 HIV-positive people in the country, including 110,000 children (UNAIDS and MOH Uganda figures). Uganda was the first African country to have involved itself very actively in the fight against HIV/AIDS - a national prevention programme was implemented before the 1990s. Today, the health authorities aim to start offering antiretrovirals within the public service.

MSF has been caring for patients in Arua hospital in the north of the country since February 2000. MSF runs a Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission of HIV/AIDS (PMTCT) programme, and offers HIV testing for pregnant mothers in collaboration with the Arua Hospital AIDS Programme.

In April 2002, MSF put up a building for HIV consultations, and since July, has started providing triple therapy. There are 60-70 new patients treated every month (compared to 30-40 in April). MSF has also helped rehabilitate the hospital laboratory, which is now used for CD4 counts and side-effect monitoring, among others.

As of November 2001, 691 patients had been recorded in the HIV consultation clinic, and 59 patients are now on triple therapy. MSF aims to have 400 patients on ARVs by the end of 2003.