Mother Mary Cancer Palliative Care Centre

Cancer & HIV AIDS rates in Uganda

HIV and AIDS continue to be extremely serious concerns across Uganda. Recent statistics from UNAIDS said that in 2017:

  • Around 1.4 million people were living with HIV, particularly women and young women, were disproportionately affected;
  • The prevalence rate for adults aged 15-49 was 5.9%;
  • 50,000 adults and children were newly affected with the HIV virus in 2017;
  • Adult and child deaths due to AIDS was an estimated 26,000; and
  • 73% of all adults and 68% of all children diagnosed with HIV were on antiretroviral treatment respectively


While the number of AIDS-related deaths has somewhat dropped since the advent of more effective medication over the last 18 years, there are still large numbers of people living with HIV and AIDS who still do not currently have access to the medications and treatment options they need. Many cultural and political barriers exist across the country as well – such as stigmatic attitudes and very punitive laws – meaning sex workers, men who have sex with other men, young girls, adolescent women and people who inject drugs, are all far less likely to contact HIV services for assistance and advice.

For cancer statistics, the facts can be just as devastating and humbling.

  • Uganda is one of the countries with the highest incidences of mostly infection-related cancers;
  • In 2008, 31.6 million people were registered as suffering from various cancer types;
  • The average no. of people newly diagnosed with cancer (excluding NMSC) per year is 27,100, or an estimated 300 people for every 100,000 surveyed;
  • Age-standardised rate for cancer, incidence per 100,000 people a year, is 27,000;
  • The risk of getting cancer before age 75 is 17.8%;
  • People dying from cancer per year is around 21,300;
  • The mortality rate in 2017 was 80% with only a 20% survival rate;
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, cancer kills more people than HIV, tuberculosis and malaria combined;
  • Sadly, less than 5% of the children diagnosed in Africa may be alive after 5 years

Source:; Fred Hutchinson Research Center/Ugandan Cancer Instistute (;

Realistically, though the cancer rates are still high, there are things people can do to aid and in various prevent cancers. The Ugandan Cancer Institute states that 30% of all cancers are curable, that 30% can be treated by palliation to help improve survival and quality of life. Also, 30% of those cancers can in fact be prevented, through avoiding smoking or alcohol and embracing getting immunised against Hepatitis B, HPV and the like.