A billion dollars: not enough for gay men in Uganda

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”.

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This post was published on 03/06/08 in Ideology and HIV, Men, women and others, Money and AIDS.

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  1. Comment by Dag Brück, 03/06/08, 09:12:

    Well, you could possibly argue that the group of people who have repeatedly failed to do anything are also “drivers of HIV”.

    If so, maybe substantial funds have indeed been funneled to one of the major drivers of HIV in Uganda?

  2. Comment by Leah, 04/06/08, 01:24:

    Then let’s admit that there isn’t enough governmental support in most countries to properly address MSM with typical Global Fund support. For countries where the government-led coalition hasn’t been able to do a good enough job for MSM- offer a special GF proposal process for NGOs to fill the gap.

    MSM groups in South Asia have been trying to do this- but it seems like Global Fund/Geneva doesn’t want to offend country host governments by offering funds outside of CCM-driven proposals.

    Until a time where the donor community rethinks the global approach to HIV prevention projects with MSM- we will continue to have half-hearted governmental projects that are engineered to do the absolute minimum so they can keep getting money overall. It’s a waste of money and of important time.

  3. Comment by Roger Tatoud, 08/06/08, 03:53:


    The army just found out they have a new invisible ennemy: AIDS.. be sure something will change….

    (comment available on my blog…)

  4. Comment by Barry, 31/08/08, 06:27:

    It is just a general cum politician who can’t think of anything to say. The Uganda army has tested for at least 15 years and used to turn +ve people away at the recruiting stage, with almost no regard at all for confidentiality. And the likelihood that Uganda soldiers got infected in Somalia is laughably low, not because there isn’t any but that the the situation there is so violent that any soldier having sex with a local would probably not long survive the experience if any Somali got to know about it. Still you never know.

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