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Internally Displaced In Uganda Not Getting Care For HIV/AIDS

A new study by the International Organization for Migration shows many internally displaced people in northern Uganda living with HIV/AIDS are not receiving treatment for their condition. The study was carried out in seven districts of northern Uganda: Gulu, Amuru, Kitgum, Pader, Lira, Oyam and Apac. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from IOM headquarters in Geneva.

The area covered by the study has been affected by more than two decades of war between the government and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army.

Over the years, millions have fled their homes to escape the brutal conflict and the kidnapping of thousands of children by the LRA. An estimated 1.4 million internally displaced people still live in camps.

Jemini Pandya, a spokeswoman for the International Organization for Migration, describes the study, conducted in the IDP camps, as worrying.

"All the IDP's [Internally Displaced People] in the camps are finding major problems in accessing assistance, such as HIV/AIDS counseling, treatment, care and support," said Pandya. "A particular problem is the provision of care and support for orphans and vulnerable children and people living with HIV and AIDS."

"And, this was highlighted as a major problem for authorities and organizations because of the numbers of people actually needing assistance are overwhelming and resources and capacity to respond to the needs are actually very significant," she added.

For a long time, Uganda was seen as a success in its fight against HIV/AIDS. The country's rate of infection decreased significantly during the 1990's and stabilized from 2000.

However, the UN AIDS agency reports the burden of the AIDS epidemic since has grown. It estimates one million people are living with HIV in Uganda and another one million children have been orphaned by AIDS.

Pandya says the HIV prevalence rate in the north central region of Uganda is among the highest in the country.

"IDP's, particularly women and girls, are amongst the most vulnerable populations to HIV due to insecurity because of where they are living, how they are living. Usually, they are living in easily accessible camps, lack of protection for such camps. Also, a lack of awareness of HIV/AIDS and, of course, access to appropriate services," she said.

Pandya says another problem facing HIV/AIDS victims in the camps is lack of information. She says they simply do not know what services are available and where to go for help. She says IOM is working closely with local Ugandan authorities to try to improve the situation.