29 May 2023
Geneva | Washington, D.C. -- The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) are deeply concerned about the harmful impact of the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 on the health of its citizens and its impact on the AIDS response that has been so successful up to now.
Uganda’s Leadership Towards Ending the AIDS Pandemic as a Public Health Threat
Uganda and President Yoweri Museveni have been leaders in the fight to end AIDS. Progress has been made thanks to the implementation of large-scale prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care programs, all provided on the principle of access to health care for all who need it, without stigma or discrimination. This approach has saved lives. The strong health systems built to support the AIDS response serve the entire population of Uganda. This was evident as community health workers and health systems developed for the AIDS response played a key role in tackling COVID-19 and other disease threats. Maintaining this is vital: Failures in the HIV public health response will have system-wide impacts that could negatively affect everyone.
Success Is Possible
We know that we will be able to overcome this public health threat when we ensure that 95% of people living with HIV know their status, 95% of them are on treatment, and 95% of those on treatment have achieved viral suppression. Uganda can reach that. By 2021, 89% of people living with HIV in Uganda knew their status, more than 92% of people who knew their HIV status were receiving antiretroviral therapy, and 95% of those on treatment were virally suppressed. Uganda is well on track to achieve the UNAIDS HIV treatment targets if progress can be maintained.
Discrimination Threatens Progress in the AIDS Response
Uganda’s progress on its HIV response is now in grave jeopardy. The Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 will obstruct health education and the outreach that can help end AIDS as a public health threat. The stigma and discrimination associated with the passage of the Act has already led to reduced access to prevention as well as treatment services. Trust, confidentiality, and stigma-free engagement are essential for anyone seeking health care. LGBTQI+ people in Uganda increasingly fear for their safety and security, and increasing numbers of people are being discouraged from seeking vital health services for fear of attack, punishment and further marginalization.
Uganda has repeatedly demonstrated leadership and commitment to ending AIDS – and has achieved great success – by leaving no one behind. Together as one, we call for the Act to be reconsidered so that Uganda may continue on its path to ensure equitable access to health services and end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.
Peter Sands, Executive Director, The Global Fund
Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director, UNAIDS, and Under-Secretary General of the United Nations
Ambassador John Nkengasong, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, U.S. Department of State