Wednesday, April 05, 2006


During the Cold War, ABC stood for 'Anything But Communism'. It was that saying that led us into many a questionable alliance and controversial action (Vietnam, Korea, arming the Taliban). Today ABC refers to the U.S. strategy towards fighting AIDS. The mantra now is 'Abstinence, Be faithful, use Condoms'. The question is this the right approach? As I write this I can't help but smirk to myself, it is indeed the Right approach, as in the Conservative Right's approach. Since 2003, the Bush administration has insisted on a abstinence first approach when fighting against AIDS. Condoms are not to be promoted or given out except for those of high risk to exposure- prostitutes. The thing is...they are not the only one's at high risk. What about the millions of women married to unfaithful men? In Swaziland 50% of girls marry by 18. The country has a infection rate of 20%. I would say that is pretty high risk. Or the unborn baby growing within an infected mother...

What has me thinking of this is the New York Times article by Celia W. Dugger, U.S. Focus on Abstinence Weakens AIDS Fight, Agency Finds. I can't help but feel that this is a western approach failing to realize or acknowledge the full situation and extent of the issue. But then again, these are highly qualified experts that know (or should know) what they are talking about. After all, the article indicates that Uganda has seen positive results with this strategy in lowering the percentage of AIDS infection rates. But some critics say that the reduction in AIDS infection rates in Uganda are due to condom use and death. Other criticisms are that the with the majority of U.S. money going towards the A & B of the program it takes money away from other programs that work. The article also outlines how the language of the policy is ambiguous.

"Some officials said that although activities to promote condom use have been restricted, they did not understand the distinction between condom education and condom promotion, "causing uncertainty over whether certain condom-related activities are permissible," the report stated".

There are 40 million HIV positive individuals in the world, not to mention the millions orphaned every year because of this disease. So the question still remains...are we helping or hindering?


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