World's Most Successful AIDS Prevention Programme in Uganda "Sabotaged" by Western "Experts"
Western advisors used their control of international funding to force a change in direction to condoms and casual sex
By Hilary White
KAMPALA, Uganda, July 11, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - While the US Senate considers a proposal to allocate US$50 million more for AIDS prevention programmes, one Ugandan expert says it will be wasted money if the attitudes of the Western AIDS prevention community towards AIDS transmission do not change. In a column appearing in the Washington Post on June 30, one of Uganda's leading AIDS prevention experts called on the Western "experts" to "Let my people go."
"We understand that casual sex is dear to you, but staying alive is dear to us. Listen to African wisdom, and we will show you how to prevent AIDS."
Sam L. Ruteikara wrote in the Washington Post that efforts to maintain the world's most successful AIDS prevention programme was "sabotaged" by precisely those Western "experts" who insisted that only condoms would work.
Ruteikara is the co-chair of Uganda's National AIDS-Prevention Committee. He wrote in a column in the Washington Post on June 30, "AIDS epidemics in Africa are driven by people having sex regularly with more than one person." The Western experts, dedicated to the exclusive promotion of condoms, were incensed when Ugandan AIDS rates plummeted with this "ABC" method that left condoms as a "last resort".
The success of the Ugandan programme, Ruteikara said, did not sit well with those international experts and advisors, sent to Uganda to oversee the spending of international relief funds, who are devoted to the condom as the first and last answer to the AIDS epidemic.
Despite the official line that Western "advisors" were to work within local programmes, these experts, Ruteikara asserted, actively stonewalled the Ugandan committee's recommendations. The Western advisors objected that the programme was an attempt "to limit people's sexual freedom" and they used their control of the international funding to force a change in direction.
"Repeatedly, our 25-member prevention committee put faithfulness and abstinence into the National Strategic Plan that guides how PEPFAR [President's Emergency Plan for HIV-AIDS Relief] money for our country will be spent. Repeatedly, foreign advisers erased our recommendations. When the document draft was published, fidelity and abstinence were missing."
More insidiously, Ruteikara says that a "suspicious" statistic appeared in reports that claimed a significant increase in rates of AIDS among married couples. The claim was that 42 per cent of married couples were infected, a rate twice that of prostitutes. Repeated requests for the origin of this statistic were ignored. Domestic surveys done by Ugandan health officials found that only 6.3 per cent of married couples are infected, lower even than rates among widowed and divorced Ugandans.
Since the Ugandans were forced to change their programmes, surveys have shown that the percentage of sexually active men with multiple partners has more than doubled, undoing earlier declines, and the AIDS rate has begun to climb again.
The Ugandan success story is one of the most impressive in the fight against AIDS. Between 1989 and 1995, the number of men having three or more sexual partners in a year dropped from 15 to three per cent and HIV rates plunged from 21 percent in 1991 to 6 percent in 2002. At the same time, Western nations brought more than 2 billion condoms on Africa and the epidemic continued in nations that went along with the condoms-only approach.
The motive for opposing the Ugandan initiative, Ruteikara said, was financial as well as ideological. "In the fight against AIDS, profiteering has trumped prevention," he said. "AIDS is no longer simply a disease; it has become a multibillion-dollar industry."
Ruteikara's assertions are supported by Dr. James Chin, a former top AIDS epidemiologist at the World Health Organization, who said, "Easily preventable diseases are still killing millions of children each year, while billions of dollars are being squandered annually by AIDS programs."
Robert England, head of the charity Health Systems Workshop said in the British Medical Journal, "Although HIV causes 3.7 per cent of [worldwide] mortality, it receives 25 per cent of international health care aid."
Ruteikara concluded, "Telling men and women to keep sex sacred -- to save sex for marriage and then remain faithful -- is telling them to love one another deeply with their whole hearts. Most HIV infections in Africa are spread by sex outside of marriage: casual sex and infidelity. The solution is faithful love."
"We, the poor of Africa, remain silenced in the global dialogue. Our wisdom about our own culture is ignored."
Read related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
UN Anger Over Uganda's Successful Abstinence Program Fuelled by Loss of Funds Says Researcher
Ugandan Anti-AIDS Activist Demands UN Fire Lewis For Pushing Condoms