Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Changes in sexual behaviour leading to the decline in the prevalence of HIV in Uganda: confirmation from multiple sources of evidence
  1. D Kirby
  1. Dr D Kirby, ETR Associates, 4 Carbonero Way, Scotts Valley, CA 95066-4200, USA; dougk{at}


Objectives: To identify the changes in sexual behaviour that led to the dramatic reduction in the prevalence of HIV in Uganda in the early 1990s.

Methods: Seven different types of evidence were examined: (1) models of HIV prevalence and incidence in Kampala and other sentinel sites in Uganda; (2) reports of behaviour change in the primary newspaper in Uganda; (3) surveys with questions about perceptions of personal behaviour change; (4) large demographic and health surveys (DHS) collected in 1988/9 and 1995 and large Global Program on AIDS (GPA) surveys in 1989 and 1995 with questions about reported sexual behaviour; (5) smaller less representative surveys of reported sexual behaviour collected in other years; (6) reports of numbers of condoms shipped to Uganda; and (7) historical documents describing the implementation of HIV prevention programmes in Uganda.

Results: All seven types of data produced consistent evidence that people in Uganda first reduced their number of sexual partners prior to or outside of long-term marital or cohabiting relationships, and then increased their use of condoms with non-marital and non-cohabiting partners.

Conclusions: Consistent with basic theories about transmission of sexually transmitted infections, first reducing the number of sexual partners and breaking up sexual networks and then reducing the chances of HIV transmission with remaining casual partners by using condoms can be achieved and can dramatically reduce the sexual transmission of HIV in generalised epidemics.

View Full Text

Statistics from


  • Competing interests: None.

  • The author directed the project, conducted the analyses and wrote all of this paper.

    Additional materials on the decline in HIV prevalence in Uganda and programme efforts to reduce HIV incidence are available at

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.