Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Rounds Up Reaction to Kenyan President’s Suggestion That Country Abstain From Sex for Two Years
Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi's suggestion that Kenyans abstain from sex for two years to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS has garnered worldwide press attention. Outlined below is a sampling of some of the opinions:
- Kampala New Vision: Arap Moi's "radical suggestion" that Kenyans remain celibate for two years is "idealistic and hard to implement" but "indicates a burning desire to fight and banish [HIV/AIDS] once and for all," a Kampala New Vision editorial states. The editorial encourages arap Moi to "stand firm" on his decision to import 300 million condoms for his citizens because the religious leaders who oppose this plan "will soon come round to back the use of condoms when they have buried enough relatives and fellow clergymen." The editorial concludes, "The Kenyan clergy should do their work and preach to the people to abstain from sex and leave the government to use the more practical methods to prevent HIV transmission" (Kampala New Vision, 7/15).
- Canada Globe and Mail: Arap Moi's "off-the-cuff advice" on abstaining from sex was likely "little more than wishful musing," but suggestions such as these "set back efforts to reach high-risk men, who have been particularly hostile to AIDS education as an affront to their masculinity," a Globe and Mail editorial states. The editorial adds that arap Moi's recommendation "is not the message these men need to hear," stating that high-risk men need to be informed that they "face a practical choice between condoms and AIDS, not an impossible choice between abstinence and AIDS." The editorial notes that although arap Moi's advice has "been attacked as silly and impractical," the president "still deserves much praise for most of his AIDS work," particularly his decision to import condoms. The editorial concludes, "If Mr. Moi is sincere in this battle, and he surely is, he must resist comments aimed only at appeasing Kenya's conservative religious groups" (Globe and Mail, 7/16).
- Scottish Daily Record: Arap Moi's suggestion that Kenyans abstain from sex for two years "takes the caramel wafer," columnist Bob Shields writes in a Scottish Daily Record op-ed, adding that arap Moi perceives his recommendation as "an alternative to footing the country's huge bill for importing condoms." Shields writes that arap Moi's recommendation "went down with the locals like a bent 50 pence [piece] in a Durex machine." In conclusion, Shields quotes Kenyan citizen Felix Githingi, a computer operator, who said, "How can I do that? Am I not a Kenyan man? There are three important things for a Kenyan man: to drink beer, to eat the meat of the goat and to have sex" (Shields, Scottish Daily Record, 7/14).
- Tampa Tribune: Although arap Moi's suggestion "will likely provide jokes for talk show hosts, it does have a bright side," a Tampa Tribune editorial states. The editorial notes that arap Moi's plan to import condoms shows that he is "looking inward for solutions" to Kenya's HIV/AIDS epidemic and demonstrates that "the most crucial demand he could make of his people is [that] they change the habits that brought on the problem in the first place." The "good news" is that arap Moi has become another African leader who has "shed his veil of denial of the AIDS epidemic," the editorial states. The editorial concludes, "[T]hose Kenyans who laugh at his request for a two-year abstinence from sex should consider what he proposed last month: the death penalty for people who knowingly infect others with HIV/AIDS" (Tampa Tribune, 7/14).