The Joint Clinical Research Centre in Kampala, Uganda, recently launched a no-cost HIV testing campaign aimed at children born to parents living with HIV/AIDS and those orphaned by the disease, the New Vision/AllAfrica.com reports. The campaign has tested at least 1,500 children in the Ugandan divisions of Central, Kawempe, Makindye, Nakawa and Rubaga, according to the New Vision/AllAfrica.com.
According to demographic figures from 2007, more than 100,000 children are living with HIV/AIDS in the country. Victor Musiime, head of pediatrics of the Joint Clinical Research Centre, on Saturday said out of the 50,000 children eligible to receive antiretroviral drugs, only 12,000 access the treatment. About 25,000 infants in Uganda contract HIV through mother-to-child transmission annually, Musiime said, adding, "Without treatment, 66% of them will die before they are three years, and 75% will die before they turn five."
Musiime also urged parents to have their children tested for HIV. "There is a gap in our HIV drives, with most health units emphasizing care for adults while children are not tested, yet they are the most vulnerable," Musiime said. He added, "The progression of the disease in children is high. The earlier we identify the virus, the better because we can prevent further complications and loss of lives." Musiime also urged HIV/AIDS groups to conduct outreach efforts and to provide HIV testing rather than wait for people to come to HIV testing centers. HIV tests are available for children older than 18 months in all HIV centers in the country, New Vision/AllAfrica.com reports (Kariuki, New Vision/AllAfrica.com, 5/19).
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