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Combating HIV/AIDS in Uganda

At one bleak point in the early 1990s, it might never have been imagined that Uganda would be the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to curb the spread of the HIV virus. Uganda's HIV/AIDS prevalence rates had reached a staggering 14% a decade ago, with infection rates as high as 30 percent in some urban areas.

Since the confirmation of the first AIDS case in Uganda in 1986, it is estimated that more than 2 million Ugandans have been infected with the HIV virus.  Of these, 800,000 people have died, leaving 1 million children orphaned.  At its height, heterosexual transmission accounted for 75 percent to 80 percent of new infections.  Mother-to-child transmission constituted almost all other cases. It is staggering to imagine but the toll could have been worse had the Ugandan government not enlisted international help to contain and finally reverse the spread
of the disease.

To fight its epidemic, Uganda developed one of the most comprehensive HIV/AIDS programs in Africa.  In support of Uganda's efforts, the World Bank provided $50 million for the Sexually Transmitted Infections Project in 1994, the cornerstone of the government's program to control HIV/AIDS between  1994 and 2000.  The project included efforts on several fronts to combat the spread of the virus, including help for prevention of the sexual transmission of HIV through increased awareness and promotion of safer sexual behavior, mitigation of the personal impact of AIDS on the people who are infected and their families, and assistance with central and local government management of the response to the epidemic.

By the end of 2001, adult prevalence had fallen to 5 percent from 8 percent in 1999. While the decrease in prevalence has been achieved across  all  age groups, it is most notable among 15 to 24-year-olds.  Some of the achievements that are associated with the decline in the overall prevalence include increased knowledge and awareness of HIV/AIDS and change in sexual behavior.  There has been a significant drop in casual sex across all ages, especially among young people.

The most significant changes in sexual behavior have been recorded in the young adult age groups.  This has important implications for the long-term reduction in HIV/AIDS, as this is the most sexually active group, and it represents the next generation that will be responsible for the country's future economic and social development.

Related Links:
 Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Project
 HIV/AIDS Control Project

Updated: September 2002

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