Abstinence-based Education and Stopping AIDS in Africa

by Sidra M. S. Vitale

Married People Do Have Sex, Right?

On NPR last week-ish, I caught a voice clip of Dubya talking about AIDS in Africa, and what we-the-world, and, specifically, we-the-U.S. can do to stop the spread of this disease.

The words abstinence-based education (a Christian fundie favorite) passed through his lips and onto the air.

I'm appalled. When all I hear about on the news and in special reports on AIDS in Africa is that married women are the fastest growing segment of AIDS sufferers, and that they're getting it from their husbands, I ask you:

How is an abstinence-based approach really going to help them?

If you want to argue that abstinence is a worthwhile approach in the US for helping to stop the transmission of this disease amongst the young, OK. One can at least follow the train of thought. Young people, stupid mistakes...

But one cannot follow a train of thought that implies married men and women should give up having sex with one another.

One might suggest that the married men in question stop whoring around sans condom and then going home for equally condom-free relations with their wives.

That might help. Of course, 'cleaving only unto her' to begin with might help, too.

But I just don't see married men in Africa really getting behind the whole 'abstinence' thing, as a rule, even if it's an extremely responsible approach (got an STD? why, don't pass it on! Hey, what an idea!). Seems like what these people need is more of a condom-based program. Or cure, even.

Buthelezi Isolates AIDS as SA's Top Threat
AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa, 1982-1997
AIDS:Africa in Peril

Copyright © 2003 by Sidra M. S. Vitale

02/09/07 at 22:27