Los Angeles Times Examines Uganda’s Focus on Abstinence in Fight Against HIV/AIDS
The Los Angeles Times on Monday examined Uganda's focus on abstinence in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The country's anti-AIDS campaign, which once was considered a model for the world, "has fractured" over the government's use of the ABC HIV prevention model -- remain abstinent, be faithful and use condoms -- as religious groups and several politicians have focused more on abstinence and suppressed the promotion of condoms for moral reasons, the Times reports. As a result of the focus on abstinence, "virginity is fast becoming a national obsession" in the country, the Times reports. Although it is "too early to determine the effect of these changes on AIDS prevalence rates," experts say the fight against the disease is in jeopardy and the "backlash against condoms" is "dangerous," especially for young people, according to the Times (Sanders, Los Angeles Times, 10/31).
Ugandan HIV/AIDS prevention advocate Beatrice Were said, "Because of the stigmatization, those of us arguing for condoms were suddenly looked at as people who are immoral" (Los Angeles Times, 10/31). Were, who is HIV-positive, last week was named one of the recipients of Human Rights Watch's Human Rights Defender Award (Wasswa, Associated Press, 10/28). U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis and other AIDS advocates in August said the Bush administration's policy of promoting abstinence programs and cuts in federal funding for condoms have contributed to an alleged condom shortage in Uganda and undermined the country's HIV/AIDS fight (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/5). William Fitzgerald, deputy chief of mission in Uganda, said, "There is no grand conspiracy where the U.S. government is convincing Ugandans not to promote condoms," adding, "There is plenty of money to be devoted to ABC across the board" (Los Angeles Times, 10/31).