Uganda’s Successful Fight Against AIDS Took More Than Abstinence, Washington Post Opinion Piece Says
The reasons for Uganda's success in its fight against HIV/AIDS are "more complex than they have been portrayed in Washington," David Serwadda, director of the Institute of Public Health at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, and co-chair of the Global HIV Prevention Working Group, writes in Washington Post opinion piece (Serwadda, Washington Post, 5/16). Uganda has utilized the "ABC" HIV prevention model -- abstinence, be faithful, use condoms -- which has had success in lowering AIDS prevalence rates throughout the country (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/14). According to Serwadda, sexual abstinence as a way to prevent HIV "is being overemphasized in policy debates." He says that while abstinence has been an important part of the country's HIV/AIDS prevention strategy, it "has not been a magic bullet." Serwadda continues that the Ugandan strategy goes further than just curbing high-risk sexual behavior, adding that the model also includes a "broad range of essential interventions," such as HIV counseling and testing, STD treatment and blood supply screening. Serwadda says that U.S. lawmakers should "act quickly to step up access to a combination of all these proven" HIV prevention strategies, which have yet to be fully deployed in most countries -- especially those "hardest hit," Serwadda says, citing a recent Working Group survey that found that annual global spending on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment falls far short of current and future needs. Serwadda concludes, "Uganda's lessons are important: While there is no easy answer to the question of how to stop the spread of HIV, we now know that a combination of approaches can work. It's time to stop looking for a magic bullet and use every weapon we've got" (Washington Post, 5/16).
NPR's "All Things Considered" yesterday reported on the Working Group's findings. The NPR segment includes comments from Serwadda; Dr. Yei Ming Chow, director of AIDS and STD Prevention Control in China; and Dr. Helene Gayle, director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's global HIV/AIDS program and co-chair of the Working Group (Wilson, "All Things Considered," NPR, 5/15). The full segment is available online in RealPlayer.