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Page last updated at 14:23 GMT, Wednesday, 20 July 2005 15:23 UK

Uganda virgins offered university

Ugandan schoolgirls
Girls will have to pass a virginity test to qualify for the bursary

A Ugandan MP is raising funds to send virgins to university for free.

Sulaiman Madada says he wants to encourage schoolgirls to be morally upright and avoid early marriages.

"We do not want these girls to get exposed to Aids," he told the Associated Press. Uganda is often held up as a model of how to fight HIV/Aids.

Infection rates have fallen from 15% to 5% but critics say this could now rise because the government is promoting abstinence, rather than safe sex.

The call for abstinence in fighting HIV/Aids is backed by religious groups and Uganda's first lady Janet Museveni, who supports a campaign for young Ugandans to pledge abstinence until marriage.

Only girls in Kayunga district who pass a virginity test will qualify for the bursary, which will start next year.

Kayunga, in central Uganda, has one of the highest HIV/Aids infection rates in the country.

"I believe this bursary will make a difference," Mr Madada told the AFP news agency.

"I have contacted some NGOs and well-wishers to join me in this."

The number of scholarships will depend on his fundraising efforts, he said.

SEE ALSO
Uganda to run short of condoms
13 Dec 04 |  Africa
Call for Ugandan virgin census
02 Dec 04 |  Africa
Uganda's HIV success questioned
21 Sep 04 |  Africa
Uganda turns back the Aids tide
02 Dec 03 |  Africa

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