Originally published on Advocate.com September 29 2004 12:00 AM ET
Uganda is often credited with one of the world's few AIDS success stories, lowering its HIV prevalence rate from double digits to just 6% over the past 20 years. But researchers in the country are now beginning to question the government's official HIV statistics, saying the true infection rate could be nearly three times the level currently touted, BBC News reports. Major Rubaramira Ruranda, executive director of the National Guidance and Empowerment Network of people living with HIV in Uganda, says his agency found a national HIV prevalence rate of 17%. NGEN, which based its findings on interviews with HIV-positive people throughout the country, estimates that the HIV prevalence rate is the highest in the western Rukungiri area of the country, at about 30%. The group also estimates that the infection rate is 20% in the Busia area near the Kenyan border and 18% in the northern district of Apac. Uganda health ministry AIDS control director Elizabeth Namagala says she continues to believe the government's estimates are accurate but welcomed the NGEN report's findings as "useful data."