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International News
Uganda: Financial Firms Turn Focus on People Living With HIV/AIDS

August 2, 2013

The Association of Microfinance Institutions of Uganda (AMFIU) and the National Forum of People Living with HIV/AIDS Networks (NFPLHN) in Uganda have partnered to encourage all Mityana financial institutions to guarantee business loans to HIV-infected Ugandans. In the past, some Mityana microfinancial institutions and banks categorized HIV-infected individuals as a financial risk and refused to approve their business loan requests. AMFIU and NFPLHN aimed to reduce this stigma faced by HIV-infected loan applicants by increasing HIV/AIDS awareness, developing HIV/AIDS workplace policy, and demonstrating that HIV-infected owners can operate productive businesses. Desired outcomes of the project would be an expanded client base and increased revenue for financial institutions, and economic stabilization and increased access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV-infected business owners.

The Ttamu Ssikyomu HIV/AIDS Positive Group in Mityana district exemplifies a successful microfinancial institution dedicated to self-reliance and self-sustainability for HIV-infected small business owners. Coordinator Rose Ssemuwemba stated that the 75-member group -- which includes 40 women, five men, as well as orphans and HIV-infected children -- had disclosed their HIV status to the community. The group's business activities include poultry, pig raising, quarrying, handcrafts, and party rentals. The group saves money in their own "bank," and receives some financial support from Mityana Hospital and Kiyinda-Mityana Diocese.

The Agency for Co-operation in Research and Development, the Humanist Institute for Co-operation, and Stop AIDS Now also agreed to support the project targeting HIV-infected clients of microfinance institutions. AMFIU Executive Director David Baguma stated that the project eventually would cover 20 microfinance institutions and 15 groups of HIV-infected people in Uganda.

The Uganda AIDS progress report for 2012 noted that national spending on HIV/AIDS accounted for 15 percent of domestic revenue, and the government's budget allotted only $25 million for HIV/AIDS efforts. The cost of supplying ART for all 540,000 HIV-infected Ugandans would be $270 million.

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Excerpted from:
New Vision (Kampala)
08.01.2013; Oyet Okwera

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