This billboard I saw in Uganda is a stark reminder of the reality of the AIDS crisis

Driving around the city of Kampala during my week long trip to Uganda, I saw countless signs and billboards advising men and women to get tested for HIV.

But one day, I saw a billboard next to a cell phone advertisement that I just couldn’t get out of my head. The shocking sign served as a stark reminder of just how real the AIDS crisis is in Uganda.

“Do you know your child’s HIV status?” the billboard asked, advising parents to bring their children in for HIV testing.

According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, there were 1.5 million people in Uganda living with HIV in 2015. Additionally, 7.1% of adults between the ages of 15 and 49 in Uganda have HIV, as well as 96,000 children.

UNAIDS launched a global plan in 2011 to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. By 2013, the program allowed 93% of pregnant women to get tested for HIV.

The program ultimately helped increase the percentage of HIV-positive pregnant women receiving antiretroviral drugs, which, in turn, reduced the risk of mother-to-child transmission to 71.1%, according to the HIV/AIDS charity Avert.

But despite the progress, the billboard highlights the continued the severity of the HIV crisis. Mothers are still transmitting the virus to their children, and for that reason, it’s vital for kids in Uganda to be tested.

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