Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee ‘Praises’ Uganda’s ‘ABC’ HIV/AIDS Prevention Method at Hearing
Uganda's "ABC" model of combating HIV/AIDS offers an "impressive starting point" for the rest of the world, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said on Monday at a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on African affairs hearing, the Tennessean reports (Bivins, Tennessean, 5/20). The hearing comes after the Senate on Friday approved by voice vote an international AIDS bill (HR 1298) that endorses the "ABC" HIV prevention model -- abstinence, be faithful, use condoms -- which has had success in lowering HIV prevalence rates in Uganda. The bill would authorize $15 billion over five years to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean, including an amendment that would increase funding for debt relief in countries hit hardest by the epidemic. The House earlier this month approved the measure, sponsored by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), which would authorize $3 billion a year for five years to 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, 5/19). Alexander, who chairs the subcommittee, said, ''In the midst of the AIDS pandemic, a beacon of hope shines out from Uganda," adding, "The heart of the story is behavior change." Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) said that cooperation between Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and the country's government officials and religious leaders have played an important role in the Uganda's progress in fighting HIV/AIDS, adding, "The bottom line is that Uganda's multifaceted approach to combating AIDS was successful." However, Feingold also voiced concern that different African cultures might not respond to Uganda's model, the Tennessean reports. Sophia Mukasa Monico, a native Ugandan and a senior AIDS officer at the Global Health Council who testified at the hearing, said that supporters of the ABC method should not emphasize any "single element," adding, "I am deeply concerned when I hear people taking a single element of our successful national program, like abstinence, out of context and ascribing all of our achievement to that one element. All three elements must be implemented together in order for prevention to work" (Tennessean, 5/20).
A kaisernetwork.org HealthCast of the hearing on fighting AIDS in Uganda, including testimony from Anne Peterson, assistant administrator of the Bureau for Global Health at the U.S. Agency for International Development; Edward Green, senior research scientist at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies; and Monico, is available online.