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Rubanda Batwa community struggling to check the spread of HIV

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By Naboth Isaac Niwagaba

The batwa community in Rubanda District are struggling to check the spread of of HIV/AIDS.

The minority community who mainly live in the sub counties of Muko and Bufundi have less or no access to health services thus exposing them to his risk of contracting aids.

Information obtained by APN reporter indicates that a record number of Batwa have been dragonized with HIV/AIDs and are currently enrolled on Anti-Retroviral Drugs – ARVs to save their lives from the deadly disease.

Some of these however drop out on care due absence of follow up and other challenges associated with the lifestyle of marginalized communities.

According to the survey done by the Kabale District Orphans and Vulnerable Children Living with HIV/AIDs – KADOLHA, about 50 people have contracted HIV between December 2019 and December 2020 alone.

With only 65 households, the Batwa population in Muko Subcounty is estimated  to be  less than 400.

Each household has an average of 6 people, thanks to their extended family lifestyle and the low use of modern family planning methods.

The Executive Director KADHOLA Amos Twikirize  revealed that HIV  was first given attention when one Moses Amanya a resident of Rwamahano village in Ikamiro parish was contracted the virus   in 2017.

Amanya reportedly started spreading the virus by raping women including his own grandmother and two juveniles.

The grandmother later succumbed to AIDS while the two children were saved by  one Twikirize who rushed them to Muko Health Centre IV  immediately after they were defiled before being enrolled on Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) an emergency treatment for  rape victims that stops the HIV virus from spreading.

Amanya was late arrested and he is currently detained at Ndorwa government Prison in Kabale District.

Mr. Twikirize told our reporter that in 2019, they were offering relief aid to only three people living with HIV, but since then, the number has increased to 27 Batwa  households which translates to about 50 people in Muko and Bufundi sub counties.

He attributes the rapid increase of  new infections to extreme poverty and the effects of the COVID 19 that affected the sources of income for the Batwa Community.

 Twikirize add that vulnerability among Batwa women is pushing them into  commercial sex in a bid  to provide for their families.

The KADOLHA focal person in the Batwa Community Robert Ngabirano  who is also a Mutwa and a resident of Rwamahano Village says  the Batwa women were selling sex to the “Bakiga Men”who are always ready to pay for the little money asked.

He says the price of sleeping with a mutwa woman does not go beyond 4000 Uganda  Shillings.

Gad Semajere the lead advocate for the rights of the Batwa, also a mutwa, says the Batwa have faced marginalization by government for decades and their cries have yielded nothing.

He says most of the Batwa have given up on life and are no longer seeking for medical services whenever they get sick.