Uganda Bans “Vagina Monologues”

In February, the Ugandan government stupidly banned a scheduled performance of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” that country.

The Uganda Media Council demanded that changes be made to the performance before it could go forth. Specifically, the UMC wanted the performance to emit all references to homosexual acts. The play’s organizers refused, and the performance was canceled.

The UMC issued a statement saying that,

The play promotes illegal, unnatural sexual acts, homosexuality and prostitution, it should be and is hereby banned.

Ensler for her part told the BBC that Uganda is afraid of vaginas,

There is obviously some fear of the vagina and saying the word vagina. It’s not a slang word or dirty word, it’s a biological, anatomical word.

No word on whether or not the version of the play that was to be performed in Uganda included the scene of in which a 24-year-old woman has sex with a 13-year-old girl and the girl proclaims that “if it was rape, it was a good rape”, which has been cut from most recent U.S. performances of the play (presumably we’re all afraid of young vaginas or “good rape”.)


Uganda ban on Vagina Monologues. The BBC, February 18, 2005.

Don’t mention the V-word: Uganda bans Monologues. Jeevan Vasagar, The Observer, February 20, 2005.

Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda Trade Bloc Accord Goes Into Effect

A treaty between East African nations Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda went into effect in January creating a trade bloc that over the next few years will create a free trade zone.

A similar East African free-trade zone was set up in 1967, but collapsed in 1977 as wars devastated the region.

Under the terms of the agreement creating the East Africa Community Customs Union, Kenya, which has a more industrialized economy than Tanzania and Uganda, will pay duties on goods it exports to the other two until 2010, when such duties will disappear.

The three countries will also set identical tariffs for imports from outside the three countries.


East Africa trade accord launched. The BBC, January 1, 2005.

Ireland Donates Money to Aid Ugandan Refugees

Kampala newspaper New Vision reports that the Government of Ireland has donated 130 million shillings (about US $75,000) to help Uganda deal with the estimated 40,000 internally displaced persons who have left their homes in the wake of recent attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army.


Ireland Gives Internally Displaced Persons Sh130m. New Vision, Kampala, December 2, 2003.

Study Suggests Cheaper, More Effect Method to Prevent HIV Transmission to Newborns

Researchers at John Hopkins University and Makarere University in Kampala, Uganda, recently reported in the Lancet on the results of their tests of an alternative treatment to prevent children born to HIV-infected mothers from contracting the disease themselves.

Typically, AZT is used to reduce the risk of transmission. Unfortunately, AZT treatment has two drawbacks. First, it has to be given numerous times — the mother receives AZT every three hours during labor and then the infant receives it every day for a week after childbirth. Secondly, the need for numerous doses raises the cost of the treatment.

The John Hopkins and Makarere University researchers tested a much simpler regimen involving anti-HIV drug nevirapine. In the study, a control group was administered the AZT therapy and the experimental group was given nevirapine once to the mother during labor and then once to the infant immediately after birth.

The result was that the infants administered nevirapine were less likely to be HIV positive 18 months after birth than were those administered AZT. That represents a 41 percent lower risk for infants given nevirapine.

This confirmed results of a 1999 study, also in Uganda, in which infants and mothers were given either zidovudine or nevirapine. That study found that those receiving zidovudine were twice as likely to be HIV positive as those receiving nevirapine, though that study only tracked the infants several months after birth rather than the extended period of the latest study.

Johns Hopkins researcher Dr. J. Brooks Jackson said of the finding,

This use of nevirapine, if widely implemented, has the potential to prevent several hundred thousand new infections every year. This regimen is extremely simple, safe and inexpensive, but access to HIV testing and counseling remains a huge obstacle. Fortunately, the recent availability of funds for HIV prevention and treatment for Africa from the Bush AIDS relief plan will likely make a huge difference in the implementation of this nevirapine regimen.


Article: Newer HIV Drug Protects Babies Better Against Virus. Reuters Health, September 13, 2003.

Cheap drug ‘prevents HIV births’. The BBC, September 12, 2003.

Drugs to Newborns Block HIV Infection from Moms. Kenna Brigham, Johns Hopkins University, October 13, 2003.

Finding a Way to Fight Mom/Baby HIV Transmission. Johns Hopkins University, September 15, 2003.

Do Africans Follow Anti-HIV Drug Regimen Better Than Americans?

One of the long-standing arguments against the use of anti-retrovirals to treat the AIDS crisis in Africa goes like this: African countries like the health infrastructure to ensure that patients will consistently take anti-HIV drugs (which, of course, have a number of side effects). This will create a situation, the theory goes, where few patients take the full set of drugs and likely give rise to more virulent, drug-resistant forms of HIV.

But a survey of African patients in Botswana, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda found that, in fact, HIV patients in those countries were more likely to stick to their regimen of AIDS drugs than were Americans.

On average, the survey reported that AIDS patients in those four countries take about 90 percent of the prescribed drugs. That ranks favorably with American AIDS patients who, in similar surveys, reported taking about 70 percent of their anti-HIV drugs.

Interestingly, there is also evidence that African patients are more truthful in reporting their compliance with the anti-HIV regimen than American patients. According to the New York Times’ report of the survey results,

Moreover, doctors say, most African patients are zealous about their regimens. They are also more truthful when estimating their adherence, said Dr. David Bangsberg, a professor of medicine at the University of California in San Francisco who has studied compliance patterns here and abroad.

On average, he said, American patients tell their doctors that they are doing 20 percentage points better than they really are — that is, a patient who says he takes 90 percent of his pills will, when tested with unannounced home pill counts or electronic pill-bottle caps, turn out to be taking 70 percent.

A study of 29 Ugandan patients found that, on average, they estimated that they were taking 93 percent of pills and proved to be taking 91 percent.

There are a number of possible reason for the difference, including that in African nations a number of people in the AIDS patient’s extended family may be contributing to help pay for the relatively expensive drugs, and that AIDS patients in Africa have a more immediate experience with numerous fatalities from the disease given the relatively high death rate from AIDS in Africa compared to the United States.


Africans Outdo Americans in Following AIDS Therapy. Donald G. McNeil Jr., New York Times, September 3, 2003.

Idi Amin Close to Death — Several Decades Too Late to Do Any Good

The BBC reports that Idi Amin is close to death. If only this had happened a lot sooner, like 1970.

The even better news is that Amin is likely to get the Pinochet treatment if he ventures out of Saudi Arabia (imagine that — a former bloody dictator living in exile in Saudi Arabia!) According to the BBC,

According to local newspaper reports, President Yoweri Museveni has rejected a request from one of his wives to let him go back to Uganda.

Deep wounds

However, the president’s press assistant, Oonapito Ekonioloit was quoted as saying that he was free to return if he so wished but did not rule out the possibility of him being arrested, if he was still alive.

“Everyone knows he has a past. If he has any [legal] case to answer, it will be dealt with according to the law,” he said.


Idi Amin’s ‘condition worsens’. The BBC, July 21, 2003.