Shift on Condom Use in Uganda ‘Threatens To Undermine’ Country’s Success in HIV/AIDS Prevention, Editorial Says
Uganda became Africa's leader in reducing the spread of HIV by promoting abstinence, faithfulness and consistent condom use, but now this "balanced approach is tilting, and Ugandans will die as a result," a New York Times editorial says (New York Times, 9/4). The Ugandan and U.S. governments over the past couple of years have placed an increasing interest in promoting abstinence and fidelity in marriage, with condoms being distributed only to people who cannot manage either prevention tactic. U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis and other AIDS advocates last week said the Bush administration's policy of emphasizing abstinence-only prevention programs and cutting federal funding for condoms have contributed to an alleged condom shortage in Uganda and undermined the country's HIV/AIDS fight. Lewis said in a teleconference sponsored by health and human rights groups that "there is no question that the condom crisis in Uganda is being driven and exacerbated by [the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief] and by the extreme policies the administration in the United States is now pursuing" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/30). The shift in policy from promoting condom use to abstinence-only education "threatens to undermine the country's success in bringing AIDS into the open," the editorial says. If those who use condoms "are branded as immoral," it will "drive the epidemic back underground," the editorial adds, concluding, "No one knows better than the Ugandans that lives are saved when AIDS is treated as a public health challenge, not a moral crusade" (New York Times, 9/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.