HEALTH
U-Report introduces consultations on HIV/AIDS via SMS
Jan. 6, 2016
BY U-REPORT
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Now it is possible for U-reporters to get answers on HIV/AIDS related questions via SMS through the new U-report dashboard system. This is done with the help of Mildmay-Uganda and Marie Stopes-Uganda, two partners of UNICEF and U-report.

The Daily Monitor reported earlier this year that Uganda is losing its fight against HIV/AIDS. The previous decline in HIV prevalence has now turned and Uganda is the only country in Eastern Africa with a rising HIV prevalence.

According to the Uganda Country AIDS Progress Report the drives of the HIV epidemic include behavior factors such as multiple sexual partnerships, cross-generational, early and transactional sex and sec work, alcohol and substance abuse. The socio-economic factors include gender norms, gender-based violence, inability to negotiate for safer sex by women and the structural factors are policy related and include inequitable access to health services, governance, and stigma and discrimination.

The issues presented in the Uganda Country report are also highlighted by the 240,000 U-reporters across the country. U-report sent out a poll in July this year asking “Why do you think most youth in Uganda fear to have an HIV/AIDS test?” The poll received over 23,000 replies and the almost half replied that they think it is due to the fear of the outcome of the test. Other common answers were stigma, ignorance and psychological stress. More than 30,000 U-reporters replied to the poll, sent out last year in September, asking if it was easy for youth in Uganda to access reproductive health services, and half of all U-reporters answered “No”.

Through the U-report system a 19 year old from Gulu asked all U-reporters ”What advice can you give students to avoid spread of HIV/AIDS in this long term holidays?” The most common advices were abstinence, being engaged in productive activities, resist social peer influence, use condom and faithfulness. One 19 year old U-reporter from Nebbi wrote: “Students should avoid involvement in unprotected sex, use condoms in case of sexual desire & should stick 2 to one partner."

Through the U-report system U-reporter can now get answers to their questions on HIV/AIDS for free thorough the HIV dashboard. When U-reporters send in questions about HIV/AIDS, for example “Where can I get a HIV test for free?”, “I am afraid to take a HIV-test” and “How do I protect myself from HIV?”, the U-report system then tags them as HIV messengers. They are then directed to the HIV dashboard, enabling Mildmay and Marie Stopes to answer the questions.

Mildmay-Uganda is an organization who provides HIV/AIDS care, treatment, training and education, and Marie Stopes-Uganda is specialized in private sexual and reproductive health and family planning. Both are experts in HIV/AIDS related issues and are therefore monitoring the HIV dashboard.

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