Uganda Radio Network has established that even after the Norwegian Government winded up its five year support to the Market Vendors AIDs project (MAVAP) last December, vendors are still enthusiastic about voluntary counseling and testing.
Contrary to claims that Voluntary HIV Testing (VHT) services are offered by inadequately trained personnel, the Market Vendors AIDs project at Owino is still popular.
Uganda Radio Network has established that even after the Norwegian Government wound up its five year support to the Market Vendors AIDs project (MAVAP) last December, vendors are still enthusiastic about voluntary counselling and testing.
MAVAP started in early 90’s by Angelina Wapakhabulo now the Uganda High Commissioner to Kenya, after rampant cases of vendors succumbing to the Aids.
The idea was to have a one stop shop where vendors and customers can trade and also check their HIV status and get treatment as well.
Godfrey Kayongo, Chairman Uganda Market Vendors Association, narrates the journey the vendors have taken from early days of stigma and denial, to disclosure and access to VHT services.
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Presently, the project has 8 stations placed in visible locations where vendors and market goers access counsellors who also trade in the market. It serves a population of over 50,000 vendors.
Dan Kiwanuka, the Liason Officer with the Market Vendors AIDs project, says each station has at least four counsellors who have been trained to provide VHT services.
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The market counsellors refer clients to the Uganda Cares clinic within the precincts of the market for testing. Phillo Kisembo a counselor at the clinic says on a day she receives 50 to 100 clients.
Kisembo explains what a counseling session entails.
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Our reporter caught up with one of the market vendor’s counselor at her onion stall in Owino market.
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The vendors also follow bulletins and announcement on HIV/Aids from a public address, popularly known as the Vendors Voice radio. Byabazare George a presenter at the Vendors Voice.
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The Market Vendors AIDs project has expanded to 15 markets around Kampala and Mukono.