Selectively attending to the science one wants to see is the hallmark of denialism. The proponents of abstinence-only programs, or more generally the ABC approach to prevention, have often pointed to success in Uganda where an HIV/AIDS catastrophe was averted in the 1990’s. The problem is that Uganda’s prevention success predated their adoption of the ABC slogan. In fact, in the years following the official use of the ABC slogan by President Museveni, Uganda’s AIDS problem has gotten worse.
For more information on the reality of Uganda’s HIV prevention success and the reasons why Uganda is now facing a growing HIV epidemic, you can read a series of excellent papers from people who were in Uganda in the 1990s. Four articles published in the peer-reviewed research journal AIDS and Behavior provide an excellent discussion on HIV/AIDS prevention in Uganda. The first article is an overview by Mike Merson now at Duke University. Merson was the Director of the WHO Global AIDS Program during the years that Uganda averted an HIV disaster. The impact of sexual behavior changes and the governmental response in Uganda’s HIV epidemic are detailed in an article by Ted Green and his colleagues at Harvard. Ron Gray, who has done extensive research in Uganda for decades comments on Green’s article. Finally, Gary Slutkin and his colleagues who were on the ground in Uganda during those critical years provide their perspective. All four articles can be accessed and downloaded free.