Uganda's First Lady: AIDS a Moral Problem

ONE of the African nations hardest hit by AIDS, Uganda has also mounted one of the continent's most effective AIDS information and prevention programs.In a recent Monitor interview Uganda's first lady, Janet Museveni, talked about the underlying causes of an epidemic that now affects 30 percent of the country's child-bearing population. Among her comments: On the cause of the AIDS epidemic:

"AIDS is a loud and urgent symptom of a malady which has pervaded the whole human condition. "It is a physical manifestation - like environmental degradation, violence, and corruption in high office - of a deep-seated disorder in the spirit of man.... "People have used sex in all sorts of ways that it was not meant for. It has taken AIDS for us to know what we've been doing with our bodies and to learn that we're really responsible for our lives."

On AIDS prevention:

"Although the majority of Ugandans have been sensitized about aids, there has not been a significant behavior change to reduce transmission. "We will use the condom as a means of controlling the epidemic. But teaching people to use condoms is, at best, only a short-term solution. What works is a change of behavior. Marriage is being used in all sorts of incorrect ways, and our children are watching us. We have to set an example for the young by instilling the virtues of self-control, faithfulness and honesty in relationships. The young represent our chance to survive. We must not fail them."

On solutions to the AIDS epidemic:

"We never really talk about our ethics, our morals, but I feel very strongly that this is the only answer. Ours is a spiritually illiterate generation. "The whole problem is tied in with the breakdown of the morals of the world. "AIDS is not the problem of Uganda alone. It is not the problem of Africa alone.... It's a human problem, and we have to treat it as such."

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