‘B’ in ABC Method Is the ‘Real Pillar’ of HIV Prevention in Uganda, Letter to Editor Says
Uganda's success in reducing its HIV rate from 21% to 6% from 1991 to 2002 is mainly due to the "B" in the ABC approach to HIV prevention, which stands for abstinence, be faithful and use condoms, Sam Ruteikara, co-chair of the Uganda National AIDS Prevention Committee, writes in a Washington Post letter to the editor. Ruteikara's letter comes in response to recent a Post opinion piece by columnist Michael Gerson, who wrote that HIV/AIDS prevention is the "ultimate answer" to curbing the epidemic in Africa. Ruteikara writes that he agrees prevention is key, adding that "we must go further" and ask what "sort of prevention" is needed.
"AIDS epidemics in Africa are driven by people having sex regularly with more than one person," Ruteikara writes, adding, "Therefore, our main message was stick to one partner" and to use condoms "only as a last resort." He says, "Condoms won't stop AIDS in Africa because fewer than 5% of people use them consistently."
According to Ruteikara, HIV/AIDS treatment is necessary, though he notes that providing antiretrovirals to one patient with HIV/AIDS costs more than $1,000. Ruteikara concludes that every "$1 spent on treatment is $1 unspent on effective prevention" (Ruteikara, Washington Post, 4/16).