AP/Washington Post Profiles Ugandan HIV Prevention Program Offering Cattle, Appliances to Youth Who Remain Virgins
In an effort to stop the spread of HIV, the Buganda kingdom, the largest of Uganda's four traditional monarchies, plans to offer rewards to young people who remain virgins into their early twenties, the AP/Washington Post reports. According to the AP/Post, men would receive a "few head of cattle" and women would receive a refrigerator or stove in exchange for abstaining from sex. The kingdom, whose residents make up 17% of Uganda's population, has not yet decided at what age people would take the "virginity pledge" or how long such a pledge would apply. While men will be "trust[ed] ... not to lie" about their virginity status, women will undergo a "traditional way of testing," according to the kingdom's health minister, Robert Ssebunnya, who did not provide additional details. Under the program, Buganda officials also plan to write a "sex manual" and expand the role of "sengas" -- aunts who traditionally counsel their nieces on wedding night etiquette and "other wifely roles." The kingdom would appoint sengas to teach males and females the "virtues" of avoiding sex. Ssebunnya stated, "We're not telling young people they can't go on dates, not to dance or hold hands. We're just saying maybe you shouldn't have sex. That way you won't get sick, you won't have children before you finish school." The kingdom, which has no political or tax-raising powers, is unsure how it will pay for the program, which it plans to implement by the end of the year (Rosenberg, AP/Washington Post, 6/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.