Principal Investigators: Drs. Martin Schechter and Patricia Spittal
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The protracted conflict in Northern Uganda has lasted over 20 years; it has affected the whole population and its impact has been cross-generational. In August 2006, the signing of the landmark Cessation of Hostilities Agreement took place. Although the search for durable solutions is ongoing, several hundred thousand Internally Displaced People have started to return to their home villages. Accordingly, the Government of Uganda is reinstating plans for resettlement as relative peace prevails. While NGOs have consistently reported grave concern that HIV/AIDS may be devastating the region, epidemiological data describing the legacy of the conflict are scarce. Without this data it is difficult for donor agencies and NGOs to prioritize effective responses.
Given the identified gap in evidence and the potential for rapid progression of HIV infection post-conflict, due to the combination of high vulnerability and increased exposure opportunities, it is vital that an aggressive and deliberate approach to evidence-based research and program design be developed as the previously encamped resettle. This initiative, led by Drs. Martin Schechter and Patricia Spittal, aims to address the paucity of HIV-related epidemiological data for the Northern region of Uganda by assessing HIV prevalence and incidence rates and trends of disease among a cohort of individuals aged 13–39, in order to better inform post-conflict intervention planning. The implications of this new research initiative have great significance for developing policies and programs to confront HIV in the context of post-conflict.