COVID-19: Sex has no lockdown, experts project high new HIV infections and unwanted pregnancy

The outbreak of coronavirus in Uganda has affected us in many aspects of our lives and as the lockdown continues we all understand the impact of COVIDD-19, the confirmed cases are now at 264 according to the Ministry of Health, Uganda and there are some topics/health issues that have been overlooked in the pandemic fight

This lockdown has affected most vulnerabilities of different groups of people in Uganda, look at the gender inequities, neglect of the needs and rights of the most marginalized, women, girls, refugees, people living with a disability, people living with HIV as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people

The focus is on the control of COVID-19, and other health services have been disrupted; think about the maternity, the need for contraceptives, safe abortion and other sexual and reproductive health services.

On the 19th March 2020, the President of Uganda, H.E Museveni Kaguta declared a pandemic lockdown and he said that this is war, we all should take it seriously. I quote him, his directives were followed on the word go until now. The pressure of the imposed lockdown has increased domestic and gender-based violence and sexual exploitation

Experts say; this lockdown is known to cause adverse pregnancy outcomes including miscarriage, prematurity, maternal death, new HIV infections, unwanted pregnancies

Uganda has been struggling for decades when it comes to health service care systems and it is now undoubtedly needed to manage the situation effectively but what about other infectious diseases, preventable disease, who is working on them? Do you know that most of the people are dying from these preventable diseases than COVID-19

COVID-19 has put the country under considerable strain and dealing with this uncertainty alone is creating imbalances in health care provision, disruption of routine essential health services

Contraception, emergency maternal and reproductive health services are hit harder with limited facilities operating during this time of Pandemic. The most disadvantaged have incurred costs already, travel for long distances and even not attend for health services at all, the fear of LDUs is written on everyone’s face

Due to the lockdown and restrictions on transport, the country has already reported on the stock-outs, we no longer see the distributions of condoms, contraceptives yet young people are having sex

We now know exactly how the theatre of this pandemic has played out in terms of downstream implications on sexual and reproductive health and rights. We are already seeing some of the effects: stories of abuse, violence, hunger, loss of jobs, suicides across the country.

Are young people having sex during this time, isn’t this a contentious issue when some stay hungry, can they even have an appetite to play sex; i guess no or yes but the reality is young people are having sex-we can have this debate for another day

Ooh, yeah, I know, before having sex you prepare for it. You eat, drink water, shower and it’s difficult to have sex when hungry but in this scenario, some people are not doing it because they want to, some are stressed because of no food and find sex as an escape, that is my opinion and I could be right, any objection is allowed in the comment section.

Let us face it, for those who are hungry, it’s not pleasure or fun, it’s stress and no choice. Some were caught up at their boyfriend’s places which sometimes is hard to resist especially when one is toxic, did I say toxic or? Yes, I said it because we have all seen news and stories all over the country

Being realistic, people are living with trauma single and married ones not certain of the future. When you look at the situation, it’s unrealistic to have sex but apart from those that have been struggling, those that are stuck in hostels, yes, others are enjoying and the question is; are they doing it in the right way? Are they using protection? How many are having unprotected sex? What’s the percentage of unwanted pregnancy

Currently, the statistics show that unwanted pregnancy is at 25%. Even if the National Population, UDHs records one pregnancy it will definitely be added to the 25% that’s already in existence. It’s indeed a genuine concern and the impact of unsafe abortions, using unhealthy preventive to HIV/AIDs, and ’emergency contraceptives’ should be looked into and given a priority

I know some will say; young people should at least abstain in this period and like I gave you a scenario where some girls were caught up in unsafe places. What do you expect? What would you advise?

As anyone of you thought about the accountability of relief funds? We are not ready for that topic today and don’t forget to wash your hands, stay at home, wear the mask.

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Frank Byaruhanga is a human rights activist with years of experience in community dialogues, digital communication, advocacy and digital campaigns. He specializes in Media Relation Work, Management and Training with sufficient knowledge in Governance, Accountability, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, Youth-led research, Content developer, Creative Activism, Social Media Management and documentary photography.

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