Still, Condom Camp Keeps Turning Blind Eyes to Evidence
Autor: Mary Rettig,Jenni Parker Fuente: Agape Press

(AgapePress) - A senior research scientist from Harvard says abstinence and faithfulness are more effective than condoms to stop the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Dr. Edward Green of the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies is the author of Rethinking AIDS Prevention (Praeger, 2003). He says he wrote the book after the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) dismissed his study of effective AIDS prevention program, and instead hired another researcher, one who favored condoms, to conduct another investigation.

According to Green, officials with USAID and the United Nations have continued to contend that promoting abstinence simply is not practical. He disagrees, however. "It's hard to argue with success," the doctor says. "If you look at the countries in Africa that have the highest levels of condom use -- countries like Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya -- these are not countries with lower HIV infection rates. These are countries, unfortunately, with higher infection rates. So what all these experts are saying, that [promoting condoms] is the only practical thing -- first of all, it's not working."

On the other hand, Uganda has become to many the "poster-child" nation for what has been called the ABC approach -- an AIDS prevention program that emphasizes encouraging people to "Abstain" from sexual activity, "Be faithful" in marriage or a monogamous relationship, or if one chooses to do neither A nor B, use Condoms.

Green says Uganda has been a success story for initiatives that stress abstinence and faithfulness in particular, largely because the churches in the country have helped to promote them. "The faith-based organizations, whether Christian or Muslim, were mobilized in countries like Uganda and Senegal and Jamaica," the researcher says, "so church leaders and religious groups played a big role in targeting those behaviors -- fidelity and abstinence."

As a result, the Harvard scientist says churches in Uganda and around the world are having a significant impact on the containment of HIV and AIDS. Nevertheless, he notes, many global groups that promote condom use consider churches and other faith-based groups to be obstacles to the fight against AIDS and HIV infection, and tend to frown on anyone who supports the efficacy of their abstinence- and character-based approaches.

In fact, Green notes, the U.S. Agency for International Development refused to accept his documented evidence that abstinence and faithfulness work to curb HIV, instead choosing to bring in another researcher -- one predisposed to favor condoms-based prevention -- to conduct another study.

Nearly two years ago, Green testified before the U.S. Senate's African Subcommittee about the effectiveness of Uganda's ABC approach. He observed that, in little more than a decade, it had helped bring about a steep decline in the African nation's HIV/AIDS infection rates: they had dropped from 21 percent to 6 percent since 1991.

In his 2003 Senate testimony, Green noted, "Many of us in the AIDS and public health communities didn't believe abstinence and faithfulness were realistic goals. It now seems we were wrong."
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