KAMPALA - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II said yesterday she felt "a sorrow so profound" at what she called the "scourge of HIV and Aids" following a visit to a clinic in Uganda for sufferers of the disease.
During the 40-minute visit, the queen watched a fashion show put on by some of the several hundred children being treated at the centre, chatted to some of them and unveiled a plaque.
Accompanied by her husband Prince Philip, she also visited the section of the centre housing bed-ridden patients. The press were, however, barred from this part of the visit.
Uganda was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to register a drop in HIV infection rates among adults, although the United Nations Aids programme, UNAids, this week warned the country against complacency.
Addressing the Ugandan parliament later, in a speech frequently interrupted by MPs stamping their feet in appreciation, the queen said Uganda's efforts in tackling Aids were a "cause of real hope".
The 81-year-old monarch last visited Uganda in 1954, eight years before the East African country - hosting the Commonwealth's biennial summit for the first time - acquired its independence from Britain.
"We are delighted to be here once more," she said. "The UK remains a committed friend of Uganda."
She also paid tribute to Uganda for sending 1500 peacekeepers to Somalia, the only country in the African Union to do so despite a pledge by the union to dispatch an 8000-strong force. The Commonwealth heads of government summit officially opens today. - Sapa-AFP