Swaziland's AIDS efforts undermined by king's polygamy
August 21 2004 12:00 AM ET
Efforts to control the spread of HIV in Swaziland, a southern African nation in which nearly 39% of all adults are already HIV-positive, are being seriously undermined by King Mswati's polygamy, The Guardian of Manchester, U.K., reports. The epidemic in the country has been fueled by polygamy, the subjugation of women, poverty, and migrant workers who visit prostitutes, health officials say. Mswati has launched efforts to provide care for AIDS orphans, to promote safer sex, and to obtain international funding for HIV treatment programs, but the international Christian relief and developing group World Vision says these efforts are undermined by Mswati's practice of polygamy--he has 11 wives, most young women in their teens and 20s--which encourages other men in the nation to do the same, putting all of their partners at risk for HIV infection. "For a role model, it is not about what they say but what they do," says Jan Sithole, head of Swaziland's trade union federation.