HIV/AIDS on the campus: universities and the threat of an epidemic

Case Studies & Research
14 p.

Universities, the site of intellectual excellence, should stand in the forefront in fighting social taboos, gender inequalities and other barriers against a general social mobilisation for lifesaving changes in sexual relations. On the whole, this mobilisation has not taken place. Few if any universities in Sub-Saharan Africa are in the forefront in the struggle against AIDS. Calls for mainstreaming the epidemic into research are yet to be heard. Only when specifically and systematically targeted have university authorities begun to address HIV transmission within campus and its impacts on education, research and management. This paper summarises some initial work to address the question why universities respond the way they do. The answer is sought not in the attitudes or behaviour of individuals in leading positions, but in the actions of universities as organisations or institutions. Makerere University, the prime university in a country whose leadership is known to have responded early and with determination to the AIDS epidemic, is the case used for the study. Summarising Uganda's responses to impacts in the public sector, and regional responses to inactivity by African universities, the paper analyses developments in Makerere during the period from the early 1990s. The answers offered to the question why in fact universities avoid responding are backed up with references to relevant approaches in organisational theory.

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