Over the past ten years the promotion of abstinence and “faithful marriage” has become a popular cause among a certain subset of Uganda’s urban youth. Makerere University, Uganda’s flagship public university located in its capital city, has for the past decade hosted a weekly abstinence rally, organized by students affiliated with a local church, that features skits, songs, and participatory games that encourage youth to abstain, often by presenting positive images of marriage and romantic renditions of mock wedding ceremonies. This emphasis on abstinence and marriage as primary methods of AIDS prevention is relatively recent, and represents a shift from an earlier, and successful, Ugandan approach to prevention that had utilized a wide range of culturally grounded interventions to help stem the epidemic.1 In the wake of an influx of US. funding supporting the dual message of “abstain and be faithful,” abstinence and faithful marriage became popular and prominent messages featured on city billboards, woven into elementary school curricula, and promoted on flyers written and disseminated by Ugandan activists. Uganda’s born-again Christian community was especially invigorated by these shifts. If abstinence was touted as a behavioral standard in this community, faithful marriage emerged as a powerful social model.
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