Efforts by the Lutheran World Federation to combat AIDS in the central African country of Uganda have proven among the most successful of their kind in the region. A four-member evaluation panel established by the LWF studied the programs in July and August of this year and noted that the goals set when the projects were launched in 1995 have been achieved. The LWF efforts concentrates on the Rakai district in Uganda's southwest, one of the areas hardest hit by AIDS.
The disease's transmission is due to several factors, including the region's underdevelopment and the overwhelming poverty of the people living there. Many women who have no sources of income turn to prostitution. In addition, traditional family structures that allow brothers to share wives increase the chances of the disease's transmission within families.
According to statistics, the life expectancy of Uganda's population, which now stands at 60, will have dropped to 40 years by the year 2010. The pandemic has wreaked havoc with family and kinship structures. Many households are headed by children who look after their younger siblings and their fatally ill parents.
The LWF programs work with small groups and families in the region's villages to share information about the nature and transmission of the disease and about necessary changes in behavior and habits. Home care and counseling for those affected are available. Legal aid for widows and orphans is also provided, since, according to traditional patriarchal law, in the case of the death of the head of a family all property is claimed by the husband's clan. Consequently, the wife and children can lose home and land and be left with no means of support. …