Ugandan Vice President Bukenya Calls for Research on Country’s HIV Prevention Strategies
At Uganda's fifth National AIDS Conference last week, Ugandan Vice President Gilbert Bukenya called for research into the country's primary HIV/AIDS prevention strategies to understand why prevalence of the disease has increased in the country, Uganda's Monitor reports.
Bukenya said that research is needed to "establish what has worked and what has not worked." Although the ABC approach -- which stands for abstinence, be faithful and use condoms -- has been credited with curbing the spread of HIV in Uganda in the past, HIV prevalence in the country has increased in recent years, according to the Monitor. "Researchers should be able to carry out operational research to know why there is an increase in infections, yet we still have in place this policy that has worked very well," Bukenya said.
Alex Coutinho, executive director of the country's Infectious Diseases Institute, said that Uganda has conducted research that could help slow the spread of the virus but has not used the research in designing new policies. "Uganda has research that is really important," Coutinho said, adding that other countries have taken Ugandan research and are "making good use of it." He said the country tends to "stagnate when it comes to putting into practice most of this research that promotes prevention."
Coutinho added that Uganda participated in a study that found male circumcision reduced the risk of HIV by 60% among men but has not implemented policy aimed at increasing circumcision rates in the country. However, Rwanda and other African countries have "taken [the research] on with full force" and have introduced campaigns to increase male circumcision, he said.
HIV prevalence in Uganda decreased from 18% in the early 1990s to 5% earlier this decade but has increased to about 6.4%. The country records a minimum of 132,000 new HIV/AIDS cases annually, the Monitor reports. The biennial conference was organized by the Uganda AIDS Commission (Kirunda/Natabaalo, Monitor, 3/27).