Uganda’s Anti-HIV Efforts Threatened by ‘Moralists’
Radio advertisements for the female condom have prompted "moralists" in Uganda to attack the nation's anti-AIDS campaign. Agence France-Presse reports that critics are demanding that the radio ads, which emphasize "not only [the female condom's] safety during sex, but also the nice experiences that go with them," be taken off the air immediately. This is the "first real threat" against Uganda's anti-AIDS campaign, which is largely responsible for the dramatic decrease in infection rates in the country. Once the epicenter of the AIDS pandemic, Uganda's overall infection rate has declined from 28% in the early 1980s to a current rate of 8% -- one of the lowest in sub-Saharan Africa. An estimated 500,000 Ugandans have died of AIDS-related illnesses, with 1.8 million estimated to be HIV-positive. The Uganda AIDS Commission, seeking to reduce the HIV infection rate, is urging the nation's religious groups to take part in prevention efforts. However, officials in the Catholic Church remain adamantly opposed to condom use, saying the promotion of contraceptives by religious institutions is "tantamount to condoning immorality and infidelity." Muslim officials agreed that it may not be the "duty" of religious institutions to promote condoms, but argued that they "should not condemn their use." In contrast, the Anglican Church has come out "strongly" in favor of involvement. "It is the duty of religious leaders to sensitize their flock on AIDS and one cannot be involved in AIDS prevention without talking about condoms," Anglican cleric Sam Ruteikara said (Mayanja, Agence France-Presse, 12/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.