The A’s and B’s of HIV Prevention in Uganda … but where are the C’s?

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The A’s and B’s of HIV Prevention in Uganda … but where are the C’s?

Abstinence, Being faithful in sexual partnerships and Condom use have been a highly promoted foundation of the HIV prevention strategy in Uganda since 1984. Uganda has been widely praised for having one of the earliest and most successful HIV prevention programs in Africa. Recently, Uganda fell off the pedestal of a model nation when the number of HIV infected Ugandans doubled from 2004-2011.

It all began when the “C” was lost from the ‘ABC’ of HIV Prevention. The rising incidence of HIV in Uganda was preceded by a reinterpretation of ‘ABC’ by high level government officials including, President Yoweri Museveni, who stated “abstinence is the best way to prevent HIV” and “condoms are not the solution for Uganda or Africa”. Museveni further emphasized that condom use is only for those who cannot abstain or be faithful in their relationships, in essence making condom use into a moral issue. Introducing a stigma around condom use, an HIV prevention method that when used consistently and correctly can prevent HIV, will have a dramatic impact especially on the HIV risk for women and girls. Further, the Ugandan government recalled the Ugandan brand of condoms in 2004 stating they were of poor quality and introduced a new condom-tax. Mandatory testing of all imported condoms led to a severe shortage of condoms that has reoccurred throughout a decade.

Regardless of one’s beliefs, no one can disagree with promoting moral and ethical behavioral practices; abstinence and faithfulness in sexual relationships. The highest rate of new HIV infections in Uganda is married women (40%). Preaching faithfulness and honesty about HIV status  is  obviously not working in Uganda. There are numerous social, behavioral and human rights issues that must be addressed for HIV prevention to be successful but stigmatizing condom use will have lasting negative consequences on HIV rates in Uganda.

 

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One Response to “The A’s and B’s of HIV Prevention in Uganda … but where are the C’s?”

  1. sbfphc Says:

    Uganda was once a leader in HIV prevention, but now has been surpassed by Malawi.

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