Saturday, July 22, 2023

US Funding, for HIV Programs in Uganda

When the Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2023 was signed into law in Uganda, the heads of Uganda’s international partners in the fight against HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS, PEPFAR, Global Fund) came out with a statement telling Uganda that was a bad move.
UNAIDS and its partners have always advocated for decriminalisation of same sex sexuality one of the major ways of HIV prevention. That is historical fact, so the statement should not have been a surprise.

In Uganda, the public sphere went amok.
‘The Americans’ were threatening to kill poor innocent Ugandans simply to spread and promote homosexuality. Cries of ‘blackmail’ and ‘bring it on’ were heard from Ugandan leaders, influencers and other concerned Ugandans. Our ‘sovereignty’ was defined under attack, our dependency on foreign aid decried and lambasted. Quite a lot was said-, quite a lot which should not have been said.

So, why should the HIV prevention efforts of Uganda be affected?

Simply because of the law. The Anti-Homosexuality Act; 2023.

The US spends almost half a billion dollars annually on a comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention and care programme in Uganda. This is distinctly different from the military aid that is also under attack. These monies go on HIV/AIDS prevention and care, including some 1,2 Million Ugandans on life saving and life prolonging drugs.

Inevitably, since LGBTQ+ individuals are a key vulnerable population in HIV, there are programmes and clinics that focus on the LGBTQ+ population for prevention and care.

According to the text of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2023 as written; there is a Reporting mandate, and more that would impact HIV/AIDS programming.

·         HIV/AIDS prevention and care for ‘homosexuals’ is ‘Promotion of Homosexuality’, and was clearly defined in the law as such.

·         In that case, funders for the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ were criminalised.
Since USAID and PEPFAR (the American government) fund those clinics and organisations, USAID, PEPFAR and the American Government are clearly breaking the law of Uganda, and ‘promoting homosexuality’ by funding HIV/AIDS prevention and care in Uganda.

·         Organisations that work with homosexuals in HIV/AIDS are also very clearly ‘promoting homosexuality’ and are criminalised in Uganda, according to the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

·         Landlords who house the above organisations are also quite clearly criminalised in the Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2023 of Uganda.

·         In another part of the Act, good Ugandans are encouraged to report the known ‘homosexual’ to Police.
The reporting mandate excluded lawyers, but it doesn’t exclude health care workers who include HIV/AIDS care workers, doctors to other extension workers.

Clearly, the law was a problem.
The American Ambassador to Uganda took it upon herself to have some discussions with relevant government people. Besides the real investment in funding over multiple decades of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, a lot of people could die, simply because there is a law against the ‘promotion of homosexuality’.

In the flying accusations of blackmail, telling the Americans to fuck off, with the Ministry of Health denying a problem as per its spokesperson, and other medics coming out and seeing nefarious reasons, aka, ‘promotion of homosexuality, the head of Uganda AIDS Commission had a blunt assessment


““they are just taking precautions and saying for communities that may be discriminated, ‘What steps do we want to put in place to ensure that they continue accessing treatment to ensure that they continue to access treatment?’”


Apparently, the Minister of Health, A medical doctor, was unhelpful on the concerns of ‘the Americans’, to the point that the American envoy’s assessment of her was brutal and blunt. Maybe she is more concerned for the spiritual safety of Ugandans than their physical health…, am just saying. Here is the American envoy’s assessment of Minister of Health Dr Ruth Aceng;


“She reportedly took issue with Health Minister Jane Aceng, who was not in the meeting, saying her disposition on the matter of homosexuality was likely to reverse years of gains in healthcare and particularly HIV/Aids treatment, largely supported by development partners.”


The American envoy then took it up with the President. Apparently the discussions were a little more fruitful.
The President made an announcement, medics and health care workers were not going to have to report known homosexuals. And of course it was a tacit green light to continue HIV/AIDS programming with the evil and dastardly, bad homosexuals, who happen to be citizens of Uganda.

So, the whole fracas ended up being partly resolved.
The US government and its organisations are not going to be hauled to Ugandan courts for ‘promotion of homosexuality’. The partner organisations in Uganda are not going to be defunded, nor are they going to be prosecuted, nor will they be forced to report their homosexual clients.

Turns out ‘the Americans’ were actually looking out for our people, Ugandans…!

What a shame? Err, we are fanatics and zealots in Uganda, on matters of homosexuality. We don’t get ashamed. We don’t even feel it, nor admit to that nefarious emotion. We are fighters, and winners, against homosexuals and homosexuality.

I doubt that that saga ends there. This is Uganda. Keep tuned in!



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