The growing notion that for any policy –including social policy – to be successful it must be evidence based or informed, has been shattered by Uganda’s successful story of a largely well controlled and managed HIV and AIDS epidemic. John Kinsman, in this groundbreaking book, which boldly departs from the usual evidence/science-is-supreme flow, argues that Uganda’s spectacular ABC (abstinence, behaviour change and condoms) strategy originated from no more than a “hunch”. Intrigued by what could actually have guided AIDS control in Uganda, the author investigated a flagship research which was set up in the early days of the epidemic to guide policy.
The research – Masaka Intervention Trials – which sought to promote delay in sexual debut among youngsters, zero-grazing (limiting the number of sexual partners) and treatment of STDs, conducted from 1994 – 1998 found that HIV incidence was identical in both intervention and control populations. Simply and bluntly put, the much coveted trial interventions had remarkably failed. And yet, as argued by many – scientists, politicians and ordinary people alike - since there was a general trend of improvement in the HIV and AIDS situation over time, Uganda must have been doing something right, and the “right thing” was precisely these interventions. Uganda’s HIV prevalence reduced from as high as 39% in late 1980s in some places to just 6% in 2004 nationwide.
Publisher:Palgrave Macmillian, New York
Year of Publications:2010
Reviewer:Sam Agatre Okuonzi