KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Boston Globe Examines Uganda’s Use of Traditional Sex Counselors in Preventing HIV/AIDS

The Boston Globe on Tuesday examined Uganda's use of traditional sex counselors in preventing the spread of HIV. Young Ugandan women traditionally were trained in sex and relationship matters by their paternal aunt, or senga, before marriage. However, contemporary sengas are professionals that are "pa[id] handsomely for their love potions, magic beads and tips," according to the Globe. Although most young girls today are more educated than their predecessors and learn about sex long before marriage, Robert Ssebunnya, a Kampala businessman and former health minister under the king of Buganda, who is head of Uganda's largest tribe, said he believes that professionally trained sengas can help prevent the spread of HIV. Ssebunnya has received government funding to train professional sengas to teach the ABC method of HIV prevention -- abstinence, be faithful, use condoms -- and plans to create a "senga manual" to offer guidelines on how to teach young people to avoid premarital sex, according to the Globe. Although students at Kampala's largest university recently booed Ssebunnya when he spoke about his ideas -- the students said that HIV/AIDS prevention education in Africa requires a more "contemporary approach" -- research conducted by the Ugandan Medical Research Council, an AIDS research organization, has shown that using sengas to teach sex education can yield "promising results," according to the Globe. Phoebe Nakibuule Mukasa, a professional senga, said that modern, educated Ugandan women have not learned "traditional marital etiquette," which has led to more cases of HIV, according to the Globe (Scheier, Boston Globe, 10/28).

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