International Donors Put Lives of Women, Girls at Risk by Imposing Ideology on African Countries in AIDS Fight, Opinion Piece Says
"It is vital that development partners not impose their ideological or political views as a condition of partnership" with African countries in the fight against HIV/AIDS, particularly for programs meant to protect women and girls, who are most vulnerable to the virus, Babatunde Osotimehin, chair of Nigeria's National Action Committee on AIDS, writes in a New York Times opinion piece. Otherwise, those donors might "endanger the very people they seek to protect," Osotimehin adds. For example, the U.S. "enthusiastically promotes" sexual abstinence as the main HIV prevention tool, he says. But "abstinence is one critical prevention strategy, but it cannot be the only one," especially in Africa, where many girls do not have control over "when, where or with whom they have sex," according to Osotimehin. African countries must use "a multipronged approach" to fight the epidemic, including educational programs, as well as comprehensive reproductive health services that reach women and girls who might avoid HIV-specific services "for fear of stigma and violence," Osotimehin says. "Protecting women and girls from AIDS requires true and effective partnership with international donors who are willing to undertake honest, open dialogue about what works in each of our countries," Osotimehin says, concluding, "National governments must have the freedom to employ the very best strategies at our disposal to help our people" (Osotimehin, New York Times, 8/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.