I wasn’t impressed with the tone of the International AIDS Conference recently held in Toronto. I’m fairly certain positive things were accomplished that weren’t reported, but what I did see and hear would indicate a lot of groups and individuals had agendas that were riding on the coat tails of the AIDS and were more interested in bashing governments, especially the Bush Administration.
The booing that Gates got for mentioning the ABC program got my particular attention.
More good than harm. What the hell? Where’s the harm?
And lets be clear. The amount of abstinence education aid is not 33% of the 15 billion dollars the US government has allocated for AIDs. Its only 1 billion total.
And where’s the evidence that abstinence programs do not work? They are practiced in Uganda and fundamentally credited with Uganda’s relative success in the AIDS turnaround.And where the hell are abstinence only programs offered? Lets not confuse an abstinence only program with an abstinence education program.
So why the anger against against a such successful approach? Why does Uganda’s experience not impress the delegates at the conference?
I can’t speak for Uganda, although every partisan will claim that any improvement is due to his own pet project, so I doubt the validity of the analysis right off the bat. However, I do know that abstinence programs in the US have failed miserably. Teenage girls who took an abstinence pledge did not delay having sex by any appreciable amount of time, and when thye did have sex they more liekly to not use condoms or birth control.
That doesn’t appear to be what Clinton claimed, though; rather, he pointed out that 33% of prevention funding is set aside for abstinence-only programs. Since only 20% of the original 15 billion is allocated for prevention funding, 1 billion would work out to 33.3% – close enough for a politician striving for accuracy without wanting to sound like Mr. Spock about it.
More subjectively, LifeSite’s account of delegates cheering in support of “increasing acceptance of prostitution and hard drug use” seems to be a fairly egregious mischaracterization, at least from the evidence presented in the article itself. The account only cites Bill Gates’ speech, in which he was cheered for addressing the limits of abstinence-only programs:
This hardly seems like a ringing endorsement of prostitution and hard drug use. Frankly if Bill Gates had publically expressed support for hookers and heroin, I would have expected it to get a lot more airplay, liberal media or no.
Jonathan Mann, when he was head of the AIDS program for WHO, said the biggest HIV risk behavior for women in Africa is getting married. Gates, too, supports the idea that until women gain power in relationships, this isn’t going to change.
Considering that quite a few Third World women have gotten AIDs from rape, it reeks of blaming the victim. Also, as irishgirl said, it does you no good to be faithful if your husband ( or wife for that matter ) sleeps around. Condoms work no matter what your partner is doing when you aren’t looking.
What if the husband is now educated and willing to use condoms? Does that solve the problem ?
Is there any guarantee that he will use condoms with every hooker he comes across?
In the devoloped world, what percentage of men use hookers?
Isn’t it possible to develop an education program discouraging indiscrimanate sex by men in Africa ?
What if the wife wants to have children ? Most people do want to have children you know. How do you get around condoms for that? (not intended to discourage the use of condoms)
In my opinion the prevailing morality in western societies (and I hate to say it but Muslim societies as well) is clear indication that abstinence, but more important fidelity, is the best defence against AIDS.
One that’s effective? Probably not. Attempts at encouraging abstinence just don’t work. They’ve been tried over and over, and their failure has been consistent. People just don’t listen when you tell them not to have sex. For whatever reason, though, some of them listen when you tell them to use a condom. Which is probably why the crowd at the conference were booing mention of abstinence. At this point, abstinence is only being mentioned because of political pressure. Leaders representing socially conservative constituencies press for abstinence education because it suits their ideological biases, and they are unwilling to admit that reality does not reflect those biases. If AIDS research could be de-politicized, no one at that conference would be talking about abstinence education, any more than a symposium on evolution would waste time talking about Lamarckism. It’s been discredited, and continuing to focus on it now is a drain of resources that could be better spent on programs that are effective.
There is educating men about the values of fidelity, and there is overturning the cultural norm in which masculinity is, to some extent, defined by the number of sexual partners or wives one has, and the number of children one fathers.
There are cultures where a man isn’t just permitted or allowed to have extra-marital affairs, or to use prostitutes, he is considered useless and less than a “real man” if he doesn’t.
Some cultures see condoms as inherently wrong because they’re a form of contraception, or the invention of white people, or simply because they might reduce physical sensitivity for the male partner.
Changing all of that is going to need more than a handy alphabetic slogan, some free condoms and pretending that telling people “stick to one partner for the whole of your life” is actually going to work for everyone.
It’s certainly not the way the majority of people here live, is it?
As I said, promoting fidelity or relying on it is foolish. Churches and governments have tried that for thousands of years, with little to no effect. The only effect making marital fidelity into an ideal or law has is to make people work harder to hide infidelity; it doesn’t stop them from sleeping around. Promoting fidelity as a method of AIDS prevention will just produce false security in those foolish enough to trust their husband or wife that way.
And no, I’m not saying that all spouses sleep around, just that you can’t trust them not to do so, especially with your life. The trustworthy ones look just like the untrustworthy, after all.
IMHO the only differences between men and women on this is that men are more open about it and have more lovers, not that they are more faithful. After all, who do you think those men are having sex with, each other ?
I agree with you, but in the parts of the world where HIV/AIDS are most prevalent, extra-marital affairs are usually between the husband and an unmarried, widowed or divorced woman or prostitute. Not always, but usually.
I’m not saying that married women aren’t having affairs, just that the consequences they face are harsh (being divorced, thrown out of their home or village, forbidden to see their children) and so proportionally fewer of them would be expected to look outside of their marriages.
I would stronly suspect that the incidence of AIDS in America is substatially lower than in Africa. It appears to me despite all the rock videos, CDs and Holywood characterizations that by and large most American teenagers delay actual sexual intercourse to well into their late teens or at least well beyond the general African experience. I also strongly suspect that Americans take infidelity much more seriously as a whole than African males. The value of fidelity is built into American culture and it is even predominant from what I’ver read in the highly “liberal” slant of this message board. If there are failures I would suspect the mechanics of the program and that the targets are “hard core”.
I have no interest in abstinance only programs. I am interested in the promotion of abstinence outside of committed relationships as an option and the promotion of fidelity especially. The correlation of limiting sexual intercourse to AIDS reduction only makes common sense and precedent exists in much of the rest of the world.