At Luweero Health Centre IV, only 42 out of 184 people who tested positive in the past three months consented to have their partners notified by health workers. Statistics further indicate that 16 out of 42 were male and 26 were female. Grace Namubiru, the Partner Notification Service Focal Person at Luweero Health Centre IV, explains that women were, especially, unwilling to disclose partners for fear of violence at home whereas men were just uncomfortable with it.
Partner notification service is making slow progress in Luweero district over fears of violence in homes and logistical challenges by health workers.
In the last quarter of 2017, Health Centres in Luweero with support from Mildmay, a non-government organisation, introduced HIV partner notification service which is also known as partner testing to identify and enhance coverage of testing for the virus.
Partner notification service is the practice of notifying the sexual partners of a person, known as the "index case", who has been newly diagnosed with HIV infection that they may have been infected and ask them to test for the virus. It also involves tracing the partners and testing them before enrolling them on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART).
Partner Notification Service was recommended by World Health Organisation (WHO) after a research in Uganda and other countries as a way of reaching more people especially men.
However, fewer people in Luweero who test HIV positive are willing to reveal their sexual partners to health workers to trace them for fear of violence in homes.
At Luweero Health Centre IV, only 42 out of 184 people who tested positive in the past three months consented to have their partners notified by health workers. Statistics further indicate that 16 out of 42 were male and 26 were female.
Grace Namubiru, the Partner Notification Service Focal Person at Luweero Health Centre IV, explains that women were, especially, unwilling to disclose partners for fear of violence at home whereas men were just uncomfortable with it.
Namubiru adds that even some of those who disclosed, the sexual partners, especially men, were harsh when notified by health workers.
Cue in: "Most people…
Cue out:….to the field."//
//Cue in: " Mpozzi kyo kirimu ….
Cue out;…batamanyi bamanye."//
There are also little resources to trace those partners who are disclosed by those found positive. There is only 20,000 shillings budgeted for health workers to trace a person disclosed but Namubiru says this is not enough because many are located in distant places.
An HIV-positive woman who was found at an ART Clinic at Luweero Health Centre IV, told URN on condition anonymity that she declined to disclose her partner to health workers because her husband may react violently and harm her.
Rose Katende, the district female councillor for Luweero town council, says that women are willing to disclose but fear losing their partners.
// Cue in: "Tukizudde nti abakyala...
Cue out:...obulungi obukirimu."//
On the streets of Luweero town, there were mixed reactions from men with many unwilling to turn up for testing even after being notified by health workers about the status of their partners.
(Vox Pop of Men)
//Cue in: "Okusinga tuba…
Cue out;….ngwako obugwi.”//
James Mugema, a resident in Luweero town called for compulsory testing of men in Uganda to identify those living with HIV so as to enroll those found positive on ART if the virus is to be contained.
Edward Kalyesuubula, the Luweero district HIV/AIDS Focal person, says that the notification service is good but they need more resources to sensitise people to embrace testing as well as tracing the partners.
Kalyesuubula adds that if men are attracted to test, the district will be able to meet the 90-90-90 goal and control the HIV spread. The goal is to diagnose 90% of all HIV-positive persons, provide antiretroviral therapy (ART) to 90% of those found positive, and achieve viral suppression for 90% of those treated by 2020.
Luweero district HIV/AIDS prevalence rate stands 7.4 % slightly above the national rate which is at 6.0%.
The district health reports indicate that at least 25,280 people out of 38,384 persons living with HIV in the district know their status. Partner testing, target testing and other forms of testing among others are the strategies introduced in the district to encourage all people know their HIV status.