HIV/AIDS Threatens to Wipe Out Ugandan Fishing Communities: Survey
July 26, 2005
HIV/AIDS threatens to wipe out entire fishing communities in Uganda, warned a new survey conducted by Uganda's agricultural ministry and the national HIV/AIDS commission. In addition to the human toll, the disease could affect food security by wreaking havoc on Uganda's fisheries sector, which represents 12 percent of the east African country's gross domestic product and nearly 20 percent of its total exports.
"Chronic illness and death destroys livelihood and incomes, undermines the skills base in the fishing workforce, and reduces productivity," said the survey. "This is a threat to sustainable fisheries, poverty elimination and economic growth," the report stated, adding that the industry directly employs about 700,000 people and supports some 1.2 million households. Uganda's fisheries commissioner, Dick Nyeko, said the whole country could feel the impact, since 17 million people depend on fish products for food.
The 2004 survey focused on 21 fishing communities on Lake Victoria, Lake George, Lake Edwards, Lake Albert, and along the Nile. The study found infection rates three times higher than the national average of 7 percent. On Lake Albert, which straddles the border between Uganda, Rwanda, and Democratic Republic of Congo, the infection rate was 24 percent compared to 4 percent in nearby farming communities. In Kisenyi on Lake George, the rate was 81 percent.
John Rwomushana of the Uganda AIDS Commission said the figures are alarming, especially since residents in such remote areas often, "lack access to safe water, latrines, and health care, making them vulnerable to illness."
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.