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International News

Uganda's Leader Stresses Abstinence Over Condoms in Fighting AIDS

July 12, 2004

Delegates at the 15th International AIDS Conference were deeply divided Monday over Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's comments that condoms were less effective for HIV prevention than campaigns that promote abstinence and faithful relationships.

"The principle of condoms is not the ultimate solution," Museveni told a conference plenary session. "In some cultures sexual intercourse is so elaborate that condoms are a hindrance. Let the condom be used by people who cannot abstain, cannot be faithful, or are estranged." In a departure from Western abstinence proponents, Museveni said "ideological monogamy is also part of the problem" and that marriage should be flexible.

But a majority of researchers and AIDS activists at the meeting said condoms should come first. Tim Brown, an epidemiologist at the Hawaii-based think-tank East West Center, said Asia's emerging epidemic is largely driven by prostitution, and that promoting condoms is the best way to reduce HIV's spread. "If you increase condom use by 50 percent, I guarantee you that HIV will go down by 50 percent," said Brown.

Uganda pioneered the "Abstinence, Being faithful, and Condoms" strategy -- a policy supported by President Bush. Uganda has lowered its infection rate from more than 30 percent in the early 1990s to around 6 percent of the country's 25 million people last year.

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Many conference delegates were critical of the Bush administration's AIDS funding requirement that one-third of money for HIV prevention support abstinence-until-marriage programs. "In an age where 5 million people are newly infected each year and women and girls too often do not have the choice to abstain, an abstinence-until-marriage program is not only irresponsible, it's really inhumane," Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.).

Back to other news for July 12, 2004

Adapted from:
Associated Press
07.12.04; Ian Mader



  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 

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