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HIV and STD testing in Kampala

HIV/AIDS is a well known disease in Uganda today with the latest statistics putting HIV prevalence at 6.7% of the total population.  Almost everyone knows a person or knows of a person that has been affected by HIV- whether family member, friend or work colleague. This is the reason every sexually active person is being encouraged to test for HIV and other STDs.  HIV and STD testing is done free of charge at most clinics and health units across the country. Voluntary HIV and STD testing is encouraged across all age-groups, from teenagers to married couples. The AIDS Information Centre-Uganda was one of the first organizations to provide voluntary HIV counseling and testing services in the country. It has branches in different parts of the country and also operates in select hospitals and clinics as well.  The idea is that if someone knows their status, they can make better health/life choices.

Many organizations, both government and non-government, have since started programs to encourage HIV and STD testing. One of such programs is the PMCT [Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission- of HIV] where all pregnant mothers are tested for HIV during antenatal visits.  If one is found to be HIV positive, they are given medication to prevent the unborn child from contracting the virus. There are also a number of free counseling and HIV and STD testing centers specifically for the youth in Kampala, the most popular being Naguru Teenage Information and Health Centre.

If you are in Kampala, you can choose from the numerous clinics/health centers that provide HIV counseling and testing, or you can have the test done in any hospital for a fee. All government hospitals like Mulago and the smaller KCCA Health Centre IVs provide free testing services. Other STD and HIV testing clinics include all TASO [The AIDS Support Organization] centers across the country.

That said, many people still fear going for these tests because there is still some social stigmatization attached to HIV and other STDs. This probably explains the recent influx of HIV self-test kits in some pharmacies in Kampala. Health officials are however encouraging people to go for testing from professionals, since these self-test kits lack the counseling service.

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