‘AIDS Establishment’ Must Realize Condoms ‘Will Not Alone’ Fight AIDS in Africa, Opinion Piece Says
Although "the AIDS establishment is battling to discredit a less-condom-dependent approach to preventing the spread of HIV," it is "clear that condoms are not the cure-all to AIDS in Africa," Rich Lowry, syndicated columnist and editor of the National Review, writes in the Arizona Daily Star in response to a Nicholas Kristof New York Times column, "The Secret War on Condoms," published last week. Some AIDS advocates are ignoring the "essential fact" that "countries with the highest condom-availability and reported user rates in Africa ... also have among the highest HIV-infection rates," Lowry says. While people are "far better off using a condom than not," the reason they do not always prevent the spread of HIV is because condoms "can slip, break or leak and they can be used improperly or, worse, inconsistently," Lowry states. Furthermore, HIV has spread to the general populace in Africa, "making it difficult to head off infections with condoms alone" because the condoms "will never be used uniformly enough -- or, arguably, be effective enough -- to choke off such a pervasive epidemic," Lowry continues. A behavior-change approach advising people to have fewer sexual partners is part of the answer, Lowry writes, adding that such a method "accounted for most of Uganda's nearly miraculous reduction in infection rates." However, Uganda's incidence rate has "begun to creep up" because "pressure from Western doctors" is causing the country's anti-AIDS program to have "less emphasis on abstinence and faithfulness, and more on condoms," Lowry says. While the condom is useful in fighting AIDS, it is not "a magic totem" because it has "flaws and limits," Lowry concludes, adding, "The faster the AIDS establishment gets the courage to admit it, the better" (Lowry, Arizona Daily Star, 1/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.