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"The epidemic that never happened - not even in africa"

“Can Africa be saved?” asked Newsweek on it’s front page as far back as 1984, reflecting the old Western belief that Africa is doomed to starvation, terror, disaster and death. This was repeated two years later in an article in the same journal in a story about Aids in Africa. The title set the scene: “Africa in the Plague Years”. The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed “by mid-1991 an estimated 1.5 million Ugandans, or about 9% of the general population and 20% of the sexually active population, had HIV infection”. Similar reports were repeatedly published during the last 25 years. The predictions announced the practically inevitable collapse of the country in which the worldwide epidemic supposedly originated.

Today, however, one reads little about Aids in Uganda because all prophesies have proved false. Summing up, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics reported the results of the (ten-year) census in September 2002: “Uganda’s population grew at an average annual rate of 3.4% between 1991 and 2002. The high rate of population growth is mainly due to the persistently high fertility levels (about seven children per woman) that have been observed for the past four decades. The decline in mortality reflected by a decline in Infant and Childhood Mortality Rates as revealed by the Uganda Demographic and Health Surveys (UDHS) of 1995 and 2000-2001, have also contributed to the high population growth rate.” In other words, the already high population growth in Uganda has further increased over the past 15 years and is now among the highest in the world. Similarly economic development has shown a constant growth over the same period reflecting the energy and determination of Ugandans to improve their living conditions.

It is long overdue that we recognize obvious facts proving that all predictions about an Aids epidemic in Africa have been wrong because they were based on erroneous assumption. Consequently budgets need to be redirected so that they meet the actual needs of the local population. Furthermore, individuals and organizations who have deliberately taken advantage of the hysteria they helped to create, need to be held accountable.


Christian Fiala