Psychosocial Support to Caregivers

How big is the Problem?
Crime is one of the most serious problems faced in Uganda. In 2006 the Uganda Police registered countrywide a total of 223,394 cases up from 180,390 in 2005.This means that a total of 798 crimes were committed per 100,000 people in 2006,according to the report crime rose up from 661 in 2005 and 304 in 2002(New vision 11th July 2007). The problem is increasing and is being compounded by the HIV/AIDS scourge. 2011’s crime report indicated that a total of 3,689 or 47.7% of the prisoners on remand were on defilement cases, according to statistics from central government prisons and defilement is a major conduit for the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The biggest number of people in prisons are breadwinners whose predicament has adversely affected their families and entire community. Children and spouses of prisoners living with HIV/AIDS are usually left in a vulnerable and worrying situation without any one to provide for them. Some children have been abandoned by their mothers/fathers/relatives upon arrest of their parents while others are left in the care of grandmothers who have nothing much to offer hence forcing these young children to drop out of school. In the end, the children of the prisoners living with HIV/AIDS and their spouses are forced to engage in hazardous, exploitative child labour and sexually abusive work such as prostitution and engage in early marriages for survival exposing them to the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.

In Uganda, a number of people have been encouraged by the cultural norm, which believes that any one can take advantage of a prisoner’s family, which includes spouses and children upon his arrest. This has greatly led to the breakage of a number of families of prisoners whose spouses end up remarrying or having extra marital relations without finding out about their HIV/AIDS status hence contributing to the increase in the spread of the virus.
When the prisoner is released, they usually return to their partners without any knowledge of the fact that their partners have not been faithful at all while they were in prison hence exposing them to the risk of contracting the virus. On the other hand, the released prisoner due to the high sexual urge may also end up getting a number of other partners putting his wife/ partner at the risk of being infected with the deadly virus.

• To offer free group counseling sessions to families of prisoners living with HIV/AIDS and to the prisoners in prison.
• To sensitize the families of prisoners about HIV/AIDS.

Currently, over 60 caregivers have benefited from the training sessions we have been conducting. In the prisons, over 1850 prisoners have received psychosocial support through similar training session. The participants have been enlightened more on issues related to HIV/AIDS and how it can be prevented. They have also gained counseling skills which they will put to use when counseling some of the members in their communities. The negative attitude that the participants had against the disease and the people who are infected has also changed. The participants were also enlightened about the importance of getting to know one’s status early enough.In all the training session we highlight how imprisonment can escalate the spread of HIV/AIDS and this can be avoided.