Abstinence Best Way To Prevent HIV/AIDS, Ugandan President Museveni Says
Abstinence is the best way to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said during a plenary session on the first full day of the XV International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, Reuters reports (Schuettler, Reuters, 7/12). Museveni has said that the country's HIV prevention slogan, "ABC" -- Abstinence, Be faithful, use Condoms -- could be used elsewhere in Africa to stem the spread of HIV. Museveni said that the "C" is meant to be a "fallback position," a "means of last resort" if a person "cannot manage A and B." Museveni also has said that the country has the funding, supplies and infrastructure in place to begin treating the 60,000 HIV-positive people in the country who need antiretroviral drugs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/29). Museveni said, "I look at condoms as an improvisation, not a solution," adding that he favors "optimal relationships based on love and trust instead of institutional mistrust which is what the condom is all about" (Reuters, 7/12). Museveni said that in some societies, sexual intercourse "is so elaborate that condoms are a hindrance" (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 7/12). "Let the condom be used by people who cannot abstain, cannot be faithful, or are estranged," he added (BBC News, 7/12). Museveni's comments contradict the opinion of some health experts who support condom use as a first-line defense against HIV infection, according to Reuters (Reuters, 7/12).
International AIDS Society President and conference Co-Chair Joep Lange said, "Condoms are effective, but you have to look at different cultures in each country." Dr. Tim Brown, director of the UNAIDS Collaborating Center at the East-West Center in Hawaii, said that condoms, in addition to abstinence, are an "essential component" of HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns, Reuters reports. Brown said, "We need to move our prevention programs back to prevention science, and the one thing that is very clear for young people is that the best programs are those that provide full information," including information on abstinence, sexually transmitted diseases and condoms (Reuters, 7/12). International Planned Parenthood Federation Director-General Steven Sinding said, "The religious-focused or oriented groups denigrate condoms, and believe that serious efforts to control [HIV] can be successful without recourse to condoms, and we don't believe that" (BBC News, 7/12). Rep. Barbara Lee (D) -- the only member of Congress to attend the conference -- said that the Bush administration uses "ideology, not science, to dictate policy," according to Reuters (Reuters, 7/12). "In an age where five million people are newly infected each year and women and girls too often do not have the choice to abstain, an abstinence until marriage program is not only irresponsible, it's really inhumane," Lee said (Joshi, AP/Washington Times, 7/13). She added, "Abstaining from sex is oftentimes not a choice, and therefore their only hope in preventing HIV infection is the use of condoms" (Reuters, 7/12).
BBC's "World Update" on Monday reported on abstinence as a method of preventing HIV/AIDS. The segment includes comments from Sinding (Hogg, "World Update," BBC, 7/12). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.