Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
IRIN News/AllAfrica.com Examines Debate Over Focus on Abstinence in Uganda’s Fight Against HIV/AIDS
IRIN News/AllAfrica.com on Tuesday examined the debate over Uganda's promotion of abstinence until marriage as the country's primary HIV prevention method (IRIN News/AllAfrica.com, 4/4). Uganda has managed to reduce its HIV prevalence by half since 1992, a success that is credited to the "ABC" HIV prevention model -- which stands for abstinence, be faithful and use condoms (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/1). The Ugandan government, "under the perceived influence of the [U.S.] and the evangelical church," has been "criticized for shifting the emphasis of its fight against the pandemic to favor abstinence [until marriage] over condom use," IRIN News/AllAfrica.com reports. According to a recent survey by the nongovernmental organization Campus Alliance To Wipe Out AIDS, 70% of 2,000 recently surveyed students at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, reported abstaining from sex. In addition, the "numerous billboards promoting condom use that once lined Kampala's streets have gradually disappeared, replaced with posters urging the youth to refrain from sex before marriage," according to IRIN News/AllAfrica.com. Critics of the abstinence-only approach to HIV prevention say, "Uganda could risk compromising its hard-won gains" if it does not take a "wider, more effective ABC approach" to fighting HIV/AIDS, IRIN News/AllAfrica.com reports (IRIN News/AllAfrica.com, 4/4). Some HIV/AIDS advocates say abstinence until marriage might not work for vulnerable groups -- including women and girls and young people who experience economic hardship and conflict -- because they sometimes have limited power in deciding whether to have sex (IRIN News/AllAfrica.com, 4/4).
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