Persons living with HIV/Aids in Bunyoro sub-region are protesting a presidential directive requiring them to get clearance from their area local council chairpersons to use private transport to get medication from health facilities.
Last week, the affected persons said they want the presidential directives on both public and private transport relaxed. The patients say the restrictions announced as part of the COVID-19 preventive measures are negatively affecting them since they can no longer access health facilities for antiretroviral therapy.
Some of the affected people say restricting their movements is tantamount to the termination of their lives. Robinah Tibakanya, the coordinator Hoima district forum for persons living with HIV/Aids says some LC 1 chairpersons are not discrete, which exposes members to stigma.
She says people living with HIV/Aids should be allowed to use private means to access treatment using their treatment cards.
"The issue of LCs clearing persons living with HIV is going to bring more chaos because not everyone is comfortable to disclose his or her status to the community. There is a lot of confidentiality on one's life. It is going to cause a lot of stigma. It is going to cause a lot of gender-based violence because some women may be picking drugs from a different clinic and may have not disclosed to each other…We are totally opposed." Tibakanya said.
Latiff Ddumba, a resident of Kikuube district and living with HIV says not everyone is ready to disclose his or her HIV status to LC 1 chairperson. He says HIV patients should have been accorded special status without travel restrictions.
"We, as patients we don’t want to go to local council persons because they can’t keep secrets…We want our government to let us go and pick our medicines as we have been doing," said Ddumba.
Immaculate Nyambugu, another person living with HIV in Hoima says they need a lot of privacy and therefore shouldn’t be exposed to each and every one.
Samuel Kisembo, the Hoima resident district commissioner says there is no option but for the patients to seek clearance from their local council chairpersons to use private means to access health facilities. He says the ban on both private and public means was meant at restricting unnecessary movements, which could comprise efforts to stop the spread of the virus.