Volunteers help the fight against HIV and AIDS in Uganda

Monday 26 September 2011
Dr Phil Graham-Smith in Uganda
Dr Phil Graham-Smith in Uganda
Last week staff and students from the University of Salford returned from Uganda where they helped a children's charity reach over 2,000 people for HIV and AIDS testing.

Uganda has one of the highest HIV/AIDS infection rates in the world but testing and education levels are low, especially in remote communities. The charityTeams4U uses sports to reach children in rural Uganda, allowing them to experience something of a normal childhood while also carrying out the wider health agenda of educating and testing people for infection.

Fourteen volunteers from the School of Health Sciences spent 11-days in the Jinja, Kumi and Dokolo assisting the Teams4U school sports programme. They coached youngsters in team games and lent their expertise to the project's medical team.

Lecturer Wendy Munro explained the impact: "The local medical team had been testing about 10 people a day, but this increased to over 200 a day while we were there. Of the 2,000 people we tested around 40 were positive."

The trip was Dr Phil Graham-Smith's second time in Uganda supporting the Teams4U project. He described the experience: "At times it was an emotional rollercoaster; we spoke with men, women and children who tested positive and we heard tragic stories about children being orphaned because their parents had died of AIDS."

Liam Mahoney, a third year applied sports science student, said: "We realise the difficulties that children face in Uganda and how privileged we are to have a university education. We all feel that we've helped to make a difference in the communities we entered."

Third year physiotherapy student, Adam Newall, was similarly affected: "This has been the best and most rewarding 11 days of my life which made all the fundraising worthwhile".