The head of Uganda’s AIDS commission says his country can’t afford to do any HIV prevention work with gay men, according to the Pink News. Though they’ve got hundreds of millions in the AIDS funding trough, and have their snouts raised for more.
“Gays are one of the drivers of HIV in Uganda, but because of meagre resources we cannot direct our programmes at them at this time,” Kihumuro Apuuli, chairman of the Uganda AIDS Commission, told the paper yesterday. I’m interested in this statement for two reasons. 1) As far as I can determine, Uganda has never permitted a systematic review of risk behaviours or infection levels among gay men in the country, so it’s hard to know whether they really are a “driver” of the epidemic. 2) What’s getting in the way of doing any decent prevention in this group is “meager resources”.
Odd, that. US taxpayers alone stumped up US$ 236 million for HIV programmes in Uganda in fiscal 2007, and they forked out a similar amount the year before. Uganda sucked in over 100 million in grants from the Global Fund in rounds 1 and 3, and the World Bank put up another US$ 97.5 million. Virtually every other major donor has funded HIV programmes in Uganda in the last decade. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is obviously aware of the gay community — Lord knows he and his supporting God Squad spend enough time harassing them.
But OK, let’s accept that the government would like to do something nice for gay men but can’t because there’s nothing left of the millions of dollars that have sloshed around in its national response to AIDS. Here’s my question: How come there is nothing, not a murmur, about prevention efforts for gay men in its latest Global Fund application? Kampala is asking for ANOTHER quarter of a billion dollars, and it’s still not planning to spend any of it on “one of the drivers of HIV in Uganda”.