Wednesday 18 March 2009

Condoms: It is as simple as ABC

The Pope thinks condoms don't make a difference to AIDS prevention work, and that their use should not be encouraged. Unfortunately he is not alone. The US government under George Bush's PEPFAR programme was also given to the opinion that it was better to divorce Condoms from its other main messages of Abstinence and Be Careful which it had tied to the delivery of aid to African countries.
This policy was particularly successful in Uganda, which was lauded for its early successes in reducing its HIV/AIDS rate, but where laterly President Museveni's own religious beliefs chimed closely with President Bush's, and where after initial success in combating AIDS with an ABC policy - the C side of things came under pressure to be dropped, due to the combined weight of religious double-think.
Uganda's success at reducing AIDS levels has stagnated in the past five years - could this be connected with its recent conversion to pushing the AB side of its ABC message? Let's see the research please.
As has been well documented, Bush pushed religious messages with his aid delivery, and picked up support from the Conservative Religious right for doing so. On the one hand this enabled a country that has been loath to increase its international aid budget to round-up support for doing just that, but on the other hand this constituency then demanded that aid came with religious conditionality.
Uganda saw a steady increase in aid from the US under these terms. Far more than other African countries that also needed help.
Some might argue that this was because Uganda had been appointed the "shining star" of African AIDS programme seeing steady improvement, and it is always easier to attract help when people can see change and improvement.
Countering that, of course, is that the argument that other countries were unlikely to be able to fund programmes such as Uganda's until they attracted more funding.
With conservative churches seeing rising attendance in Africa, the Pope's positioning is likely to have significant impact and influence; and not in a way that is likely to help bring HIV/AIDS rates down.
It gives grist to the mill of those who have resisted using contraception -- and these groups include men who think it is less macho to have sex wearing a condom than without.

1 comment:

sack the panda said...

The pope has blood on his hands. Two words 'use condoms' would save millions of his people from death and prevent families being destroyed by HIV.
It is no surprise coming from the institution that pandered to Mussolini and Hitler, refused to stay neutral in World War 2 and now wants to venerate Pope Pius