Ugandan ‘Success Story’ Needs Further Investigation, Economist Says
The HIV/AIDS "miracle" in Uganda was not "faked," but it was "possibly exaggerated" and should be subjected to further investigation, according to the Economist (Economist, 8/15). In a "Viewpoint" article published last month in the Lancet and reprinted yesterday in the Ugandan Monitor, Justin Parkhurst of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine writes that although there is little doubt that Uganda has been successful in reducing its HIV prevalence rate, it is unlikely that the rate fell from 30% to 10% over the last decade as the government claims. He acknowledges that Uganda has "been successful in preventing the spread of HIV in many ways, and that there are meaningful lessons to be learned from the way the government and other institutions have tackled the disease." However, he states that the country's success has been exaggerated, most likely because of "political pressure to present an image of success" to retain international donor funding. Parkhurst says that the international community has perhaps not investigated the nation's claims more thoroughly because it also "feel[s] under pressure to present successful examples of HIV prevention, especially in view of the high-profile nature of the problem and growing media attention on the profound effect of AIDS in Africa." Parkhurst cautions health officials from drawing conclusions from an "oversimplified assessment of the epidemiological data" and attempting to apply the Ugandan model elsewhere (Parkhurst, Lancet, 7/6). The Economist notes that Parkhust's article caused "pandemonium" in Uganda, and was denounced as "slanderous" by officials and AIDS researchers. However, Parkhurst "may have hit on something" in need of further investigation, the Economist concludes (Economist, 8/15).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.