UNAIDS’ Piot Says Young Africans Are Abstaining From Sex for Longer, Reducing Number of Partners, Increasing Condom Use
Young people in Africa are having sexual intercourse for the first time at later ages, UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot said on Thursday while attending an HIV/AIDS conference in Nigeria, adding that "there's [been] a reduction in number of partners and condom use has gone up," Reuters reports. According to Piot, youth in Uganda, Kenya and Zimbabwe on average are having sex for the first time two years later than previously recorded. He attributes the changes to increased international funding to fight the pandemic -- largely from the U.S. and The Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria -- and recent frankness about HIV/AIDS on the continent and better community-based programs. "Billions of dollars have been invested, some would say poured, into AIDS programs in Africa, and until now there were not that many results," Piot said, adding, "Now the results are coming. ... I am not trying to say we are there, but the glass is now half full." Although the number of HIV-positive Africans being treated with antiretroviral drugs has increased to 750,000 from a few tens of thousands five years ago, Piot said the "key" issue is continuing to "expan[d] the coverage and sustainability" of antiretroviral drug treatment. He said most antiretroviral drugs on the continent are being paid for by international funding, but "[i]n the end, as much funding as possible for treatment will have to be taken on" by African governments in order to be sustainable. According to Reuters, African governments in 2001 agreed to allocate 15% of their national budgets to health care, and six countries have come near that goal (Ashby, Reuters, 5/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.