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Bush praise for Uganda AIDS policy raises interesting Qs

 
 
nimh
 
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2003 08:56 pm
Bush profusely praised Ugandan President Museveni, when he stopped by on his tour through Africa, on the AIDS prevention policies Museveni has championed:

President Bush wrote:
[Y]ou have been a world leader - not just a leader on the continent of Africa, but a world leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS. You have shown the world what is possible in terms of reducing infection rates. You have been honest and open about the AIDS pandemic, and therefore have led your people to seek prevention and treatment and help and love.

And so, Mr. President, we come to herald your leadership and to assure you and to assure the people of Uganda that when it comes to the struggle against hopelessness and poverty and disease that you've got a friend in the United States.
(See the transcript of the statements of the two presidents).


This praise might come as a bit of a surprise to those who know how ardently Ugandan kids are informed about sex, and the use of condoms in particular, as part of the state's anti-AIDS campaign:

Washington Post wrote:
Scrambling around the room wearing a puffy strawberry- and cream-colored dress, 7-year-old Florence Nampiuja plops into a seat, swings her thin legs beneath her and explains how to protect against unsafe sex. She uses her tiny hands to show how to use a condom. She hums a song about how to stop sugar daddies from persuading her to have sex.

[..] Condoms are stocked in the restrooms of popular restaurants and bars every night. In the lusty personal ads published every Friday in the popular weekend tabloid, the Red Pepper, a person's HIV-negative status and acceptance of condom use are advertised along with looks, height and job status.
(From an interesting article in the Washington Post on Uganda's AIDS-policies)

One has to wonder if Bush is now ready to champion the same kind of open policy on sex education and condoms back home?

Still, there's another side of the story, too. For in its massive public campaign, Ugandan authorities have hammered home about the "ABC" of sex: practice Abstinence, Be faithful, or use Condoms - and seem to have succeeded on all three counts, turning conventional wisdoms about AIDS prevention upside down. The decline of infection rates, conservatives will point out, is as much to do with the A of abstinence as with the C of condoms:

Washington Times wrote:
In 1994, more than 60 percent of Ugandan boys ages 13-16 reported being sexually active, a number that dropped to about 15 percent in 1996 and 5 percent in 2001. Among girls, the shift was equally dramatic.

Most significantly, the number of men reporting two or more partners in a year dropped from more than 70 percent in 1989 to between 15 percent and 20 percent in 1995. The number of women reporting multiple partners dropped from 18 percent in 1989 to 2.5 percent by 2002.

Meanwhile, the use of condoms in high-risk groups rose to the highest level in Africa.
(From a Washington Times article reproduced on the USAID website).


All in all an interesting story. The Ugandan model seems to offer something for everyone. While the Washington Post concludes that "when President Bush visits [..] the lush hills near the Entebbe airport Friday [..], he is likely to hear some opinions contrary to his own", the Washington Times piece turns it around: "[USAID Director Anne] Peterson says there has been reluctance to accept ABC by "liberals" in her bureau, but said they are being won over by the hard science. [..] "The historical approach to HIV has been little A, little B and big C [..] the core of Uganda's success story is big A, big B and little C"".

One thing is clear - far away from any conservative-liberal argument, the Ugandan model seems to work: "Uganda's AIDS and HIV infection rates have plummeted from 30 percent to 5 percent in slightly more than a decade." Perhaps it works because it was devised far away from the exported debates of American politics: since "Uganda was considered a pariah nation at the time", its campaigns were designed "with almost no outside money or expertise".

What's your take on the story?
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2003 09:00 pm
(Before anyone feels like hoisting Museveni up onto some shield of honor though, I have to add that his track record on other counts - democracy/press freedom, human rights/torture, military action in neighbouring countries, etc - is less than honorable, to say the least ...)
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2003 09:07 pm
nimh, GWBush has to follow through on only one idea at a time. He looked into Museveni's eyes, and said, "this is a world leader" like myself. I can use military force to kill thousands of innocent, spend billions, and nobody can do anything about it. c.i.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2003 09:13 pm
LOL

Bush's AIDS plans usually involve a focus on abstinence, an ingnorant approach that does not consider what the successful AIDS campaigns have done.

Thus far ALL of the most strikingly successful anti-AIDS campaigns in the third world have been more like Uganda's than what Bush wants to preach.

Either bush is ignorant fo what Uganda has been doing or he is big enough to recognize success even if the methods fly in the face of what he holds dear.

I can only hope Bush learns from the success stories out there and lessens the focus on absitence in his plan to combat AIDS in Africa.

This does not mean that I think it should be like the campaign in Uganda. I think the best anti-AIDS campaign in history was Brazil's.

It consisted of making the porn industry the teachers (they use condoms in Brazilian porn movies), distribution of condoms (during carnaval both the government and the private sector distribute free condoms for e.g.), awareness campaigns (ads, etc), and many other ways to change the culture and individual habits.

Trying to get people to stop having sex is a silly way to fight AIDS. Bush's plans have focused on the Christian right's approach, to preach abstinence and once it's too late and the person is infected to help provide medical care.

The stupidity is evident in that their religious morals prevent them from helping people avoid AIDS while determining for themselves whether they want to have sex or not.

It's hard enough to get people to a level of awareness that they change their sexual habits and use foresight to prevent their infection. Bush's idiotic approach seeks to convince people to stop having sex, something far more unlikely.

Abstinence is a great way to prevent AIDS. Unfortunately many are not willing to go that route. For that majority there are plenty of other ways to protect one's self and it's a damn shame that the religious inclination of politicians is such that they feel mention of these preventative measures is wrong. They feel sex is, in many circumstances, immoral and that teaching people how to have safe sex would promote promiscuity.

So instead the plan is to try to convince people to not have sex to avoid AIDS, a tactic the overwhelming majority already know about and avoid. Once someone has AIDS the plan is to afford this person treatment.

What is skipped is the vast middle. The part that says if you are a human with a functional sex drive and dislike the idea of foregoing sex there are many safe-sex alternatives.

What I hope is that Bush's praise of Uganda is indicative of flexibility on his part. Indicative that he might be willing to rethink his foolhardy plans.

I am confident that his idiotic plan will be altered somewhat, it's so daft that there has to be some compromise. since in this case compromise is, IMO, sanity I hope he keeps an open mind.
0 Replies
 
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2003 10:35 pm
Judging from the White House's record on reliable research, Bush probably got the briefing on Uganda and Museveni from the CIA. The report might have stated Ugandans had their weapons of mass destruction "under wraps." The report probably omitted the wee fact that the "wraps" were condoms. Wink
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2003 10:38 pm
On condoms. http://www.condomania.com/jump.jsp?itemID=0&itemType=HOME_PAGE
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2003 07:07 am
Butrflynet wrote:
Judging from the White House's record on reliable research, Bush probably got the briefing on Uganda and Museveni from the CIA.


I understand you're kinda joking, but I think you might actually have a point. I mean, I was kinda surprised to see Bush praising a policy so profusely that involved such a candid and insistent focus on sex education and condoms. For a moment you ask yourself, did he really go all open-minded on the issue? Did studying the AIDS problem in preparation of his trip open his eyes? I mean, there has been praise for Bush concerning his unexpected, 'clean slate' attention to Africa's problems. But I think you might be right: he might actually just have been briefed a different story!

The newspaper reports that appeared this month on Uganda and AIDS usually cover all the different aspects of policy there, including the huge sex education effort - but if you do a Google search on the issue, you'll find a great number of links from the conservative/religious right-corner, who all trumpet the "Ugandan" example as a model of what they would like to see. They are so glad about a country that preaches abstinence, that they're willing to overlook the condoms / sex-education-to-children angle in order to use the country as 'good example' in their case. Now if Bush has been briefed only the "Washington Times' angle on Uganda ("big A, big B, small C"), and not the 'Washington Post' angle, that would surely explain his enthusiasm!

Hypothesizing like that makes you wonder about how partisan/reliable presidential briefings are (and what that means for the solidity of the basis on which US policy is made), but hey, in this case! ;-))
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2003 07:14 am
It does seem like its the combination of promoting behavioral change and promoting sex education & condom use that did the trick in Uganda, though. Both strategies are needed, I guess (well, duh) - in countries where AIDS is a population-wide (rather than risk group-specific) disease, in any case.

Thats why its such a pity that the transplantation of the political debate from back home means that the help Africans receive from the West apparently consists, thus far, of missionaries who say condoms are evil on the one hand, and sex educators who say going for behavioral change is useless on the other hand. Thats what I got from this story, anyway. (Additional info is welcome).
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2003 10:26 am
I am happy, but extremely wary of Bush's travels in Africa. He is talking some good talk, but I'd like to see the walk follow. With this guy, I've learned to watch what he does rather than listen to what he says.
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2003 10:32 am
littlek, GWBush still hasn't kept his promises to the American People on "Leave No Child Behind," "More Jobs," and "Security." Our economy is going down the ****-hole, and here he's promising African countries more aid. He's a nincompoop. c.i.
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Sofia
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2003 12:56 pm
Bush never suggested abstinence should replace condoms, as a method to fight AIDS. He simply wanted it in the mix. Uganda teaches A,B and C--whereas the US can't seem to tolerate the word 'abstinence.'

I think any reasonable person, who isn't ridiculously over-wound and ready to spring to blame Bush for anything, realizes he is pro-education, pro-prevention, pro-condoms, and additionally, not exclusively, pro-abstinence.
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2003 01:02 pm
Sofia, "pro-education" sounds pretty hollow from where I sit when mouthed by GWBush. c.i.
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Sofia
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2003 01:13 pm
c.i.--Am I to understand you don't like Bush's education initiatives? :wink:
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2003 01:22 pm
From beginning to end. One of his pre-election initiatives was "Leave no child behind." The only problem with that idea is that schools are being decimated by underfunded programs. The federal government can't just impose more regulations without backing it with funding. Talk is cheap. With the latest cuts, preschools are being shut down. That also impacts single working mothers. c.i.
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steissd
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2003 01:29 pm
Sofia wrote:
whereas the US can't seem to tolerate the word 'abstinence.'
I would not generalize so much. I believe that there are people in the USA that consciously abstain from extramarital sex, and these include teenagers from communities where Christianity has strong influence on the life values.
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Sofia
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2003 01:31 pm
I was referring to sex education. I don't want to muck up the Bush-Uganda-condom discussion with unrelated issues, but I will find the proper thread and continue on the general-Bush-education later.

It (US edumacation) was a big mess before Bush got involved--and I think some of his initiatives have panned out pretty well. I'm going off-line in a few. If we address it, let's do it on the appropriate thread, por favor. :wink: Cool

Apologies, nimh.
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Sofia
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2003 01:35 pm
Ah, steissd. You have poked me with my own stick.
You are right. I will re-word.
It seems to me that the US media and a large contingent of US citizens, upon hearing that Bush was pro-abstinence, intentionally ignored the fact that he believes in sex education--and in issueing condoms--and tried to portray him as someone, who only supported abstinence.
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steissd
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2003 01:37 pm
Well, Mr. Bush's moral stance is really pro-abstinence, but being a statesman, and not a preacher, he does not object safe sex instructions either, IMO.
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2003 01:39 pm
We all know that our educational system had many problems before GWBush took over in the WH. What I'm criticizing is his "Leave no child behind" rhetoric. Things are worse, not better for our children. Even Jimmy Carter spoke to GWBush's failure; "... GA Former President Jimmy Carter is disappointed in GWBush's performance in the ... sweeping public school reform that fights to leave no child behind, proven help ..." c.i.
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2003 01:40 pm
You see, what GWBush says in our country and what he says in Africa has the same "credibility" problem. c.i.
0 Replies
 
 

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