Support for, Access to Condoms, Contraceptives in Developing Countries Not Meeting Needs, Report Says
HIV prevention remains a top priority in reducing the spread of the disease, but donor support for and access to condoms in developing countries remain dormant and are not meeting projected needs, according to highlights of a report released Tuesday by Population Action International, VOA News reports. The report will be formally presented at the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City next month.
Karen Hardee, co-author of the report, on Tuesday said that in recent years, the use of condoms has been de-emphasized in favor of abstinence. "An assessment was done a few years ago that showed that fewer than half of the people who wanted to use a condom during a sex act could obtain one. That's inexcusable 20 years into the HIV epidemic," Hardee said. She added that "despite the fact that there are 2.5 million new HIV infections [annually], overall donor support in developing countries for condoms has remained largely unchanged over the past few years." She noted that of the "estimated 18 billion condoms that were needed in 2006, ... donors provided just 2.3 billion."
Amy Coen, president and CEO of PAI, said that abstinence does not align with human nature and therefore is not a reliable prevention method. "Sexual activity is a strong human drive," Coen said, adding, "It's a very good part ... of all marriages and most relationships. Asking people to stop having sex may sound good but has never worked any time in history. And it isn't working now." Coen said that HIV prevention efforts should include condoms and other contraceptives, which can prevent unplanned pregnancies and mother-to-child HIV transmission. "We really, really have to scale up and integrate condoms and contraceptives into HIV prevention," she said, adding, "I don't think people realize that contraceptives are indeed a prevention strategy" (De Capua, VOA News, 7/22).
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