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Soc Sci Med. 2004 Nov;59(9):1913-24.

The political environment of HIV: lessons from a comparison of Uganda and South Africa.

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Health Policy Unit, Health Systems Development Programme, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK.


Considerable interest has arisen in the role of governance or political commitment in determining the success or failure of HIV/AIDS policies in sub-Saharan Africa. During the 1990s, Uganda and South Africa both faced dramatic HIV/AIDS epidemics and also saw transformations to new political systems. However, their responses to the disease differed in many ways. This paper compares and contrasts the ways in which policy environments, particularly government structures, can impede or expedite implementation of effective HIV prevention. Four elements of these environments are discussed--the role of political leadership, the existing bureaucratic system, the health care infrastructure, and the roles assigned to non-state actors. Two common international strategies for HIV prevention, syndromic management of sexually transmitted infections and sexual behaviour change interventions, are examined in relation to these elements in Uganda and South Africa during the mid-to-late 1990s. During this period, Uganda's political system succeeded in promoting behaviour change interventions, while South Africa was more successful in syndromic management efforts. Interactions between the four elements of the policy environment were found to be conducive to such results. These elements are relatively static features of the socio-political environments, so lessons can be drawn for current HIV/AIDS policy, both in these two countries and for a wider audience addressing the epidemic.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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