Success of Brazil’s HIV Prevention Programs Shows Limits of Abstinence-Based Programs, Opinion Piece Says
The CDC's recent decision to revoke funding from the San Francisco-based Stop AIDS Project, which runs programs that "mix in some 'better sex' tips with 'safe sex' talk" to draw in more participants, "is part of a wider program to audit all federally funded AIDS prevention programs and steer them towards abstinence training," Jonathan Cohn, senior editor of the New Republic and a Kaiser Family Foundation media fellow, writes in a New Republic opinion piece. According to Cohn, this is why the Bush administration and its supporters "constantly talk up" the success of Uganda's AIDS prevention program, which includes abstinence education as part of its comprehensive approach. However, administration officials and supporters "don't talk about Brazil," which has seen "impressive" results from its HIV prevention programs, Cohn says. The number of AIDS cases in Brazil is half the number originally predicted by the World Bank, and the AIDS death rate has fallen by more than 70% over the last 10 years, Cohn states. The success of Brazil's programs, which focus on the provision of condoms and generic antiretroviral drugs, as well as "frank talk about sex," is "particularly remarkable given its government's inability to combat both the country's vast economic inequality and truly frightening rate of violent crime" and the fact that 75% of its population is Roman Catholic, Cohn says. "Never mind the studies suggesting the limits of [the abstinence] approach in the United States -- or that, even in Uganda, it hasn't been quite the elixir conservatives would have us believe," Cohn says, concluding, "The White House has its own story about AIDS. And it's sticking to it" (Cohn, New Republic, 6/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.