Residents of Rubirizi, sometimes spelled Rubiriizi, formerly Bunyaruguru kingdom in Ankole sub-region, Western Uganda, last week boycotted celebrations to mark World AIDS day.
National celebrations were held in Kole district, Northern Uganda, under the theme: “Reaching men, girls and young women to reduce new HIV infection”.
In Bunyaruguru [now Rubirizi district], a few people showed up leaving Nyakashura playground where the celebrations were organised, completely empty.
The event had been organised by local leaders including Area Woman MP Grace Kasande, Bunyaruguru County MP, John Twesigye Ntamuhira and the district chairperson, Rev Fr Silver Agubashongwire.
After making their grand entrance hoping to be welcomed by a roaring crowd, the leaders found empty chairs waiting for them.
Apparently, people stayed away for fear of being forced to test for HIV/AIDS by their leaders.
“Seeing us at the event would mean we are all HIV positive,” a resident who stayed away from the playground said.
Bataringaya Ben, the Executive Director at Community Volunteer Initiative for Development in Uganda [COVOID], was the chief guest at the event.
COVOID was started by a group of people in Rubirizi district headed by Bataringaya to fight HIV/AIDS in the area. His wife Grace Kasande is the Area Woman MP.
Bataringaya reminded the few people present that HIV virus is spread through sexual intercourse.
He said for every 100 people in the district, atleast 18 of them are HIV positive.
He said it is mostly men aged between 35 and 50 who have spread the virus by having multiple female sexual partners.
Youth ranging from 15 up to 45 years are the mostly affected by the disease.
He warned the youth to stay away from disco halls and alcohol so as to end the AIDS scourge in the district.
The district chairperson, Rev Fr Silver Agubashongwire, in his speech said he was disturbed by the boycott since youth had much to learn and benefit from the celebrations.
Agubashongwire ordered that no more celebrations be organised in Rubirizi following the disastrous day. Events, according to him, should be held in Katerera where people know what they want.