No Longer Taboo To Talk About HIV/AIDS in Uganda, Washington Post Reports
As Uganda's HIV prevalence rate has dropped from 30% to 5% over the past 10 years, the taboo against talking about the disease has disappeared, the Washington Post reports. The openness with which people discuss the disease is due in part to the fact that Uganda was one of the first countries in Africa to confront HIV/AIDS. The government in 1986 launched a public relations campaign to educate the country about the disease, including the "ABC or D" slogan -- abstain, be faithful, use a condom or die. The comfort of discussing HIV/AIDS is reflected in personal ads that appear in the country's semiweekly "lusty" tabloid, the Red Pepper, according to the Post. About 50 personal ads appear in each issue, and many include information about the person's HIV status or their desire to be tested for HIV with their potential romantic partners. Including HIV status in a personal ad is a "bold move" and one that health officials in Uganda are lauding as a way to combat the stigma associated with the disease, according to the Post. "The HIV personal, you could call it, is something that is stunning to see in Africa," Joseph Beyanga, production coordinator for the Monitor FM radio station in Uganda's capital, Kampala, said. Radio stations and dating services also have begun to allow people to announce their HIV status. The inclusion of HIV status in personal ads also shows that Ugandans are aware of the importance of not infecting potential partners with HIV, Sanyu Nkiinzi, a popular radio host for the talk show "Straight Talk," said, the Post reports. Nkiinzi added, "It's so positive because it means that people are taking responsibility for something they used to ignore" (Wax, Washington Post, 2/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.