‘Total Social Motivation’ Contributes to Success of Uganda’s AIDS Prevention Program, New York Times Opinion Piece Says
If the United States is to "embrace ... the Uganda strategy" of AIDS prevention, as proposed in a bill (HR 1298) currently before the House, it must recognize the "full spectrum of its anti-AIDS efforts," including the strong commitment of the country's leadership and the "total social mobilization" that have been "critical" to the country's success, journalist Tina Rosenberg writes in a New York Times opinion piece (Rosenberg, New York Times, 4/29). The House International Relations Committee on April 2 approved 37-8 a bill sponsored by committee chair Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), that endorses the "ABC" HIV prevention model -- abstinence, be faithful, use condoms -- which has had success in lowering AIDS prevalence rates in Uganda. The bill would authorize $15 billion over five years to fight international AIDS. The bill would allocate $3 billion a year for five years for international HIV/AIDS programs, with up to $1 billion in fiscal year 2004 going to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/25). The ABC model of prevention was the standard World Health Organization approach to preventing sexually transmitted diseases, but it was more successful in Uganda than in other countries because of the effectiveness of its government and society in "getting out the message," Rosenberg writes. While religious conservatives are convinced that Uganda's success can be attributed to a focus on abstinence, it is "one element of a bigger picture," as Sophia Mukasa Monico, former director of TASO, Uganda's premier AIDS outreach and treatment group, said, according to Rosenberg. Uganda's program "resists an ideological label" because it emphasizes abstinence and monogamy and works with religious organizations but also promotes condom usage and is "non-judgmental" in its work with high-risk groups, including prostitutes and gay men, Rosenberg says. Rosenberg concludes that U.S. lawmakers "should be tackling the difficult task of promoting the committed leadership and total social mobilization that have been crucial in Uganda's success" instead of "holding up AIDS funds with arguments over religious correctness" (Rosenberg, New York Times, 4/29).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.