08/06/08

Recognising HIV in Uganda’s army (not)

In a comment on an earlier post, Roger Tatoud drew my attention to a story about high HIV levels in Uganda’s army being a threat to national security.

Some would say that means Uganda’s First Lady is a threat to national security; her enthusiastic embrace of abstinence as the main weapon against HIV is thought by some to have contributed to Ugandans getting sloppier about using condoms. (A paper on trends in sexual behaviour in rural Uganda will be published soon in AIDS.)

The army blames bad behaviour when the boys go to other countries on UN peacekeeping missions. By God, there must be a lot of bad behaviour if the figures cited in the New Vision story are right. The UN (and indeed the Ugandan army) screens peacekeeprs for HIV before they go on active duty, so most of the 2,500 Ugandans would have been uninfected when they put on their blue berets. When they came back, the paper says, 90 percent were infected. This is simply not plausible; under two percent of the population is infected with HIV in Benin, (compared with seven percent in Uganda). Yes, rates in sex workers will be higher than that but still…

But for me, the best non-sequitur in the story is this: “Dr. Godfrey Bwire of the UPDF said the HIV prevalence rate in the army was high, but he concealed the figures citing security reasons.”

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This post was published on 08/06/08 in Ideology and HIV.

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  1. Comment by Roger Tatoud, 09/06/08, 07:18:

    Dear Elizabeth,

    You will probably feel vindicated at the news that activists were arrested during an attempt to highlight Uganda’s neglect of HIV prevention for men who have sex with men. This whilst studies have recently shown that gay men in Uganda have an HIV prevalence level of 26%.

    more here:
    http://tinyurl.com/5b9owj

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