Wednesday September 7, 2005

Ugandan Anti-AIDS Activist Demands UN Fire Lewis For Pushing Condoms

Previous Uganda UNAIDS official promoted homosexuality and lesbianism

KAMPALA, Uganda, September 7, 2005, ( – The ongoing campaign by condom advocate Stephen Lewis, the U.N. secretary general’s special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, has resulted in an open letter to Kofi Annan demanding that Lewis be immediately fired and removed from UNAIDS.

The letter, written by Pastor Martin Ssempa, Director of The Global Center for Uganda’s ABC Strategy, is very direct. “Mr. Lewis”, Ssempa writes, “is using the entire body of the UN for his personal agenda of condomizing the developing nations. Why he has the audacity to fight the only nation which has demonstrated success in reducing HIV/AIDS is utterly beyond me. … Steve seems to have a problem with Bush administration and is fabricating lies to further attack Uganda’s ABC strategy.”

Ssempa demands that “Mr. Koffi Annan should ask for the resignation of Steven Lewis who is further sinking the credibility of UN in the Great Lakes region. Mr. Lewis is the type that reminds us of the UN staff who did nothing to stop the genocide in Rwanda where close to a million Africans were butchered under the close supervision of the UN.”

In comments he made in a teleconference last month from Johannesburg Lewis complained about the lack of condoms stating, “There is no question in my mind that the condom crisis in Uganda is being driven and exacerbated by PEPFAR (the U.S. Administration’s AIDS assistance program) and by the extreme policies that the administration in the U.S. is now pursuing in the emphasis on abstinence, … That distortion of the preventive apparatus … is resulting in great damage and undoubtedly will cause significant numbers of infections which should never have occurred.” Lewis made his remarks in spite of the fact that the U.N. itself has warned about the inadequacy of condoms to prevent the spread of the disease.

In response to Lewis’s charges Ssempa writes, “Lewis is asking for the government to immediately release on the market the defective “Ngabo” condoms which were filled with so many holes that Ugandans called the police inspector general to report this crime. Does Lewis want more Ugandans to die from HIV? Mr. Lewis doesn’t seem to base his comments on facts rather bias. He should resign to restore credibility to the UN efforts.”

The problem with UNAIDS seems to be systemic and goes beyond Mr. Lewis. Pr. Ssempa comments that “Uganda’s experience with UNAIDS country representative Mr. Reuben Del Prado was also very troubling. Until he was removed from Uganda recently, he used every opportunity to denigrate the AB in our ABC strategy. Instead, he used the office of UNAIDS to promote homosexuality and lesbianism the kind of lifestyle that is utterly opposed to our African culture, our faith and laws. Thankfully he was removed from Uganda. Still UNAIDS in Uganda suffers great credibility issues.”

Pr. Ssempa demands to know “why isn’t Lewis talking about Botswana, South Africa and other nations which have taken UNAIDS advise of more condoms but now have the highest rates of HIV in the world? Why is he picking on Uganda which has been a shining example of behaviour change since 1988?” Uganda has the most successful program in Africa in the fight against AIDS since it promotes abstinence first. The BBC reports that Uganda “is often held up as a model of how to fight HIV/Aids, with infection rates falling from 15 to 5%.”

Ssempa points out one of the main problems associated with U.N. bureaucratic interference. “We are tired” writes Ssempa, “of these western officials who fly in a few hours and become experts in our campaign. Steve Lewis should come to Uganda and spend a few months at the feet of activists who are on the frontline of ABC. He is spending far too much time doing teleconferences, flying from conference to conference and listening to his stooges who keep telling him what he wants to hear…”there is not enough condoms. Send us more so we can condomise the world”.

Ssempa ends his open letter with a direct plea that leaves no doubt about his frustration: “Koffi Annan, do us a favor. Fire this Steve Lewis and restore credibility to the institution of United Nations.”
The Global Center is a division of Campus Alliance to Wipeout AIDS.

See related stories:
United Nations Official Slams US for Abstinence Approach to AIDS in Uganda

Ugandans urged to release condoms

Population Control Pedlars Spreading AIDS In Africa?

U.N.’s Top AIDS Envoy Forgets Diplomacy in Demonizing U.S. Abstinence First Strategy