September 28, 2004
Although Uganda has received "international acclaim" for reducing its national HIV/AIDS prevalence rate from approximately 30% a decade ago, the country "could see many of those gains evaporate if the war [is] not brought to an end," according to the report. Widespread displacement, poverty, use of rape as a weapon of war and a lack of a health care infrastructure all have contributed to increasing HIV/AIDS prevalence in Northern Uganda. Approximately 80% of the region's population live in "squalid camps," where up to 21% of children are malnourished and as many as 15,000 people use a single water source, Reuters reports. Residents also cannot access information about HIV/AIDS prevention or receive testing and treatment because of the "virtual collapse" of the region's health care system, according to Reuters (Wallis, Reuters, 9/27). Moreover, approximately 50% of girls who escape from LRA captivity test HIV-positive, according to BBC News. "If these girls make it back from the bush, they are sometimes rejected and abandoned by their families," the report says, adding that they often are forced to engage in "survival" commercial sex work that involves high-risk behaviors that can increase the spread of the virus (BBC News, 9/27). Any post-conflict plans must include counseling and community-reintegration initiatives for girls who "were victims of sexual bondage," the report says, according to Reuters (Reuters, 9/27). "Turning the corner will require cooperation at the local level, at the national level in both Uganda and Sudan, and concerted action from the international community. There is no time to lose," according to the report (World Vision release, 9/25).
Condoms "Useless" to Prevent Some STDs, First Lady Says
Condoms are "useless" in the prevention of certain sexually transmitted diseases, including human papillomavirus, Ugandan first lady Janet Museveni said on Saturday, New Vision/AllAfrica.com reports. During a Uganda Youth Forum meeting with incoming Makerere University students, Museveni "expressed frustration" with individuals who "discourage" abstinence-only HIV and STD prevention methods, according to New Vision/AllAfrica.com. "It is a pity that some people, especially donors, have been discouraging or soft peddling abstinence, arguing that it is unrealistic, especially with the African male sexual urges," she said, adding, "In a way, they are reducing the youth to mere animals." Prevention methods that promote condom use give "vague messages" and youth should "heed their parents' advice on sex and sexuality issues," Museveni said, according to New Vision/AllAfrica.com. She added that "people should start rediscovering their cultural norms that emphasize purity," according to New Vision/AllAfrica.com (Mugisa, New Vision/AllAfrica.com, 9/27).
Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2004 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.