The Uganda Aids Commission (UAC)

The Uganda Aids Commission (UAC) is the government agency that oversees, plans, and coordinates AIDS prevention and control activities throughout Uganda. It was formed in 1992 at the instigation of the President, Yoweri Museveni. At the time , the HIV prevalence in the country was around 18.5%. In some urban centres, it was as high as 30%. Prof. Vinand Nantulya the UAC Chairman says at the time the government recognised that HIV / AIDS was a complex disease that required a multi-sector approach. The role of the UAC, which still operates directly under President's Office, is to galvanize and coordinate a multi-sector response to HIV / AIDS.

The UAC is not an implementing agency. Its role is to coordinate , mobilize resources, put the different players together, and set up a framework to fight HIV / AIDS that implementers must follow.

UAC has components which need to be implemented by civil society, by the religious leaders, by different government ministries because it tourches on all sectors of our economy and society, says Nantulya, so in the wisdom of the president, the idea was to create a mechanism for coordinating the response by all the sectors. When the UAC was formed, President Museveni became its first chairman and the members of that commission (the board) were ministers. Later the role was passed on to permanent secretaries and government officials at the level of permenent secretary.

Finally, board membership was opened up to the point that members come from all sectors. The idea is to improve efficiency and the President remains the appointing authority. Achievements Since it was set up, the UAC has guided Uganda to be a shinning example in the whole World on how the fight against HIV / AIDS should be. Mainly, the focus is on how a multi-sector approach can be organised and mobilised successfully by engaging the top most leadership, namely the President in leading the fight. "The President was extremely energetic and he travelled all over the country sending a message about HIV / AIDS. He was able to get together the religious leaders, the community leaders, the cultural leaders, teachers and all these people got together and fought the common enemy called HIV/AIDS", says Natulya. The message at that time was very straight forward.

If you are young don't get involved in sex because there are dangers in getting there before you are mature enough to decide the best option for you in life. And the message to those that were ready for marriage was to tell them that you know when you choose, choose a partner carefully and having done so please refrain from straying and stick to one partner.

However, knowing human nature to be weak sometimes, the message was in case you are tempted to get out of union with your regular person whos status you know then make sure you do it with a condom. These are the strategies whicl later came to be known as the ABC. Uganda did not invent that alphabet of ABC, it was the international community that labelled it as ABC where A stood for Abstinence, B for being faithful and C use of a condom. The campaign was so effective that within five years the prevalence i.e. the proportion of people infected with HIV at any one time if you sampled whether it was in schools , whether it was in mothers attending antenantal care, it came down from 15% - 30% to about 6% by 2002.. Nantulya says at the beginning of confronting the epidemic in late 1988, 1989 and 1990, Uganda used to get about 230,000  new infections a year. That fell to about 70,000 infections by 2003. Rising Prevalence again In 2005, something unfortunate happened. It is as if the 

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