Some Muslim women in Kasese are demanding that a new HIV prevention programme for Muslims include condom promotion, contrary to calls by local religious leaders for the programme to be limited to messages on faithfulness and abstinence.
Jazira Mugisa, told IRIN News that the holy Koran allows Muslim men to marry four wives, but men still go out of wedlock and have extra-marital relationships. Mugisa said the money from the new project should be used to sensitize men on the use of condoms.
The four-year programme, localized to Kasese and funded by the US Agency for International Development, is to be led by the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council.
Local Muslim leaders have called for an estimated US$43,000 - to be used to promote fidelity within marriage and abstinence among unmarried people.
Uganda's national HIV prevention programme - which targets all sections of society - emphasizes abstinence, faithfulness and the correct and consistent use of condoms.
Sheikh Habib Mande, a religious leader from neighboring Kabarole district, says condoms promoted immorality and went against the Koran's teachings.
He noted that HIV/AIDS is spreading among the Muslim community because people have lost morals in society.
Despite the women's calls, project officials say the campaign's main focus will be abstinence and marital fidelity.
Swaib Mushenene, project officer with the new programme, however says the Muslim faith does not encourage the use of condoms as a preventive measure against HIV/AIDS, but we are emphasizes abstinence and faithfulness among married couples.
Mushenene added that according to Muslim teachings, men intending to marry additional wives were required to discuss the decision with existing wives, offering an opportunity to discuss issues such as HIV testing before marriage and sexual fidelity afterwards.
Health workers in the area have called for greater sensitization of Muslim women to their vulnerability to HIV and ways to handle prevention in polygamous marriages.