UNICEF ‘Backs Away’ From Universal Inclusion of Condoms in HIV Prevention Programs
Speaking at an African conference on religion and AIDS last week, UNICEF Director Carol Bellamy "backed away" from the universal inclusion of condoms in HIV prevention programs, the Washington Times reports. "One way is not appropriate for everybody. In some instances, it may be advocating the use of condoms; in some instances it may not be. It's how you believe through your religion about the best way to respond," Bellamy told reporters after religious leaders from a diverse array of faiths voiced their objections to U.N. policies that include condoms as part of HIV prevention efforts. At last month's U.N. General Assembly Special Session on Children, U.N. delegates voted to approve a draft declaration that calls for 90% of men and women between the ages of 15 and 24 to have access to sex education and contraception as a means of protecting themselves against HIV within the next three years. Many African clerics attending the AIDS conference in Nairobi last week objected to the plan, saying that condoms may not be the answer to HIV prevention in all cases. "Some countries have been flooded with condoms and HIV is increasing," John Onaiyekan, archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria, said. "What does it mean? This is not an issue that religious leaders can have different stances on," an unnamed official said, adding, "It will mean that children are going to hear from some religious leaders that it's fine to use condoms and from others that it's not. It sounds like a recipe for disaster to me." Religious leaders have "tremendous influence" in Africa, where an estimated 2.7 million children under the age of 15 have HIV (Blomfield, Washington Times, 6/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.