Sunday, April 03, 2005

Less is Not More

Not that it is the least surprising to those who work to better women's lives and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, but here comes yet another report saying that abstinence-only education does more harm than good: UGANDA: Rights group criticises emphasis on abstinence. Ya don't say.
In a new report, titled: "The Less They Know, the Better: Abstinence-Only HIV/AIDS Programs in Uganda", HRW said the Ugandan government had removed critical HIV/AIDS information from primary school curricula, including information about condoms, safer sex, and the risks of HIV in marriage.

"These abstinence-only programmes leave Uganda's children at risk of HIV," Jonathan Cohen, an HRW researcher, and co-author of the report, said in a press statement on Wednesday.

"Draft secondary school materials state falsely that latex condoms have microscopic pores that can be permeated by HIV, and that pre-marital sex is a form of 'deviance'," the statement added.
Ugandan health officials deny that they are cutting condoms from the curriculum, even as Human Rights Watch is asserting that condoms are being restricted in other, more significant ways:
Uganda has been widely acclaimed for its success in the fight against HIV/AIDS, managing to bring its prevalence levels down from over 20 percent in the late 1980s, to around six percent by the end of 2003.

Much of this success has been credited to the ABC strategy. However, HRW said condoms were being left out of the equation, especially for young people, an approach the report claimed was orchestrated and funded by the US government.

"As the largest single donor to HIV/AIDS programs in Uganda, the United States is using its unparalleled influence to export abstinence-only programs that have been an abject failure in its own country," the report stated.

It added that as of November 2004, the US embassy in Kampala had budgeted about US $8 million for "abstinence and behaviour change" in the country. That same month, HRW alleges, the Uganda AIDS Commission drafted an "Abstinence and Being Faithful" (AB) strategy, saying that the inclusion of condoms in the strategy could be confusing to young people.

At an international AIDS summit in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2004, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni decried condoms as encouraging promiscuity, and lashed out at them as inappropriate for Ugandans.

"I look at condoms as an improvisation, not a solution," Museveni said, adding that he preferred "optimal relationships based on love and trust instead of institutionalized mistrust, which is what the condom is all about."

The report said Ugandan first lady, Janet Museveni, one of the leading proponents of abstinence in Uganda, was using her position of influence to "intimidate organisations that promote condoms to young people".

Uganda, it added, was faced with a nationwide condom shortage due to new government restrictions on condom imports. The report added that when the health ministry recalled a batch of condoms due to failed quality, rather than address the shortage, some ministers suggested that Ugandans adopt abstinence as a preferable HIV-prevention strategy.

"Uganda is gradually removing condoms from its HIV/AIDS strategy, and the consequences could be fatal," Tony Tate, an HRW researcher and co-author of the report, said in a statement.
Goddam B*shCo. If they're not dropping one sort of bomb, they're dropping another. It should be illegal for them to export such deadly influence.
Dissents and Laments


Blogger Ron Hudson said...

Thank you so very much for posting this article. Had Reagan spoken up about AIDS in the early 1980's, I might not have spent the last 20 years of my life infected with HIV. Abstinence-only programs are just another form of denial, and it is a denial that is based in the hope that if you don't talk about sex, it really doesn't exist. God forbid we talk about gay sex! It is sad for those who will die because they lack the information needed to protect themselves fully.

10:26 AM  
Blogger ae said...

Thank you for dropping by. Reagan's silence on this was unconscionable, and in a just society, he will be villified, though the hagiography when he died does not give me much hope. The entire conservative campaign to deny expression, agency, information, safety will be their downfall. Humans, I have to believe, have evolved beyond that. (I know, it doesn't seem like it, but I'm holding out hope.)

Peace and blessings for you.

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