Chased from Kampala, HIV+ woman stranded in Gulu



By Norine Adokorach

Gulu Regional Referral Hospital is stuck with a woman chased from Kampala for her failing health condition on treatment in the medicine ward.

Rita Acayo, a resident of Kitebi in Kampala hopelessly stumbled to the Medicine ward of Gulu Hospital on January 31st.

She disembarked from a bus traveling to Kitgum district to seek treatment in the government hospital after her condition worsened during the six-hour journey from the Capital – Kampala.

Acayo says she was traveling to Kitgum to try and trace relatives of her parents who died in Kampala. However, she neither knows those relatives nor been to Kitgum before; only identified his late father’s name as Omara Fred.

 Acayo who found out that she was HIV positive after testing  several times but the virus could not show in her blood until a while ago when she was in primary seven, says she has been living with her step mother Christine Akello.

This was after her parents died while she was just three years old, almost 17 years ago.

Her step mother – Akello is married to another man and will not let Acayo stay with her any longer. She chased her from home on January 30, 2019 to look for her relatives.

“When she chased me from home, I went to Katwe Police Station where some kind personnel mobilized money for transport for me to travel back to Kitgum. Unfortunately, I got sick along the way,” she narrated.

Her condition worsen because she has not been on drugs despite knowing she is HIV positive.

In September last year when sickness started suppressing her, that’s when she got on taking anti retroviral drugs. Her mother was buried in a village she can hardly name in Lira district. She says her step mother Akello recently got into a new relationship with a man who has refused to entertain her presence in their home.

Acayo’s dilemma is not unique to Gulu Hospital.

Tibemanya David, the principal hospital administrator of Gulu regional referral hospital says they receive many cases of patients ending up in hospital unaccompanied.

In 2018 alone, about four people died from the hospital without their relatives surfacing by their sickbeds. They ended up being buried in the Public Cemetery of Gulu Municipal council.

The administrator says patients from medical and mental units forms the most neglected ailments in the hospital but mostly mental unit. He added that relatives always abandon their patients in the mental unit because they think that is a gone case of which can still be corrected.

“It’s our nurses who are on  duty to help out these patients that are abandoned but however sometimes they may be too much work for them like dispensing drugs to patients and this is challenging at times but they do help,” he says.

Meanwhile, Cebet Juliet the hospital senior social worker says patients in such a condition are identified and helped with food that the hospital provides.

She also says the hospital gives money but once in a while, adding: “but whenever funds are available we make sure that there is food for such patients”.

Cebet says governments has that budget but it’s just too small and the funds takes time to reach them.

She reports that she has friends from Nurses Reach, an organization based in UK that have been visiting the hospital since 2016 and have been supporting about 10 patients but added the number to 20 recently.

According to TASO, there are still many stigmas associated with having HIV in the region, they include; refusal to take medication, avoiding friends, domestic violence, denial to use latrine or toilets with the public, food, plates.

Michael Ochwo, the manager of TASO Gulu, says the donor world has changed. ” We used to get funding from donors that were used to buy food, water and some other support for their clients, but initially we don’t have such support anymore, if there’s any help then it will be as an individual because as TASO we now don’t have expenditure for such support,” he narrates.

He therefore call upon other organizations, the media fraternity, TASO to join up hands and lobby as a district so they can have some funds to support some of such cases.

The statistics got from the acting district health officer of Gulu, Mr. Yoweri Idiba states that 26579 are people active on art meaning 8.14% is Gulu prevalence rate

In every 100 people in Gulu there are 8 on art(taking drugs) 60% of the 26579 are female and only 5% are children.


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