Uganda is invoked as a metaphor for a host of arguments and insights about HIV/AIDS. However, much of what has been asserted about the country is not based on the available evidence. This paper reviews findings by epidemiologists and anthropologists, and draws on the author’s experiences of researching in the country since the early 1980s. It comments on various myths about HIV/AIDS in Uganda, including myths about the origin and dissemination of the disease, about the links between HIV/AIDS and war, and about declining rates of infection. It shows that much less is known about Uganda than is commonly supposed, and it offers some alternative hypotheses for interpreting HIV prevalence and incidence data. In particular it draws attention to the importance of mechanisms for social compliance. It concludes by raising concerns about the current enthusiasm for provision of anti-retroviral drugs.
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