Friday, 22 February 2008

America's troubling abstinence program in Africa

President Bush has been on a tour of Africa, where he maintains at least a modicum of popularity due to his aid programs there (although that aid sometimes makes things worse). Also on the American leader's agenda was dealing with China's growing influence in the region, fueled by its thirst for oil in nations such as Nigeria and Sudan.

The New York Times reported

Mr. Bush used a news conference to address the widespread suspicion that the United States planned to establish military bases in Africa as it expanded its strategic role on the continent. And for the first time, he suggested that he might consider dropping a requirement that one-third of AIDS prevention dollars be spent on abstinence programs — but only if he was convinced that the approach was not working.
Mr. Bush faced tough questioning from an African reporter about his administration’s requirement that one-third of the AIDS initiative’s prevention funds be spent on programs promoting abstinence.

The independent Institute of Medicine has said the abstinence requirement is hindering prevention efforts. Democrats in Congress, debating reauthorization of the initiative, want it dropped.

A president needs to be elected who won't require a certain amount of money be spend on abstinence programs. People will continue to have sex no matter what, and that means the spread of STDs and unwanted pregnancies. Contraception and overall sexual education should be one of the highest priorities for HIV/AIDS prevention programs.

Belief in abstinence-only programs —  confusing teachers, harming schools, and not properly educating people — is one of Bush's more dangerously irrational religious beliefs, which exists primarily to gain the support of the supposed millions of people who believe that condoms are the devil. Why do you think America has the highest teen pregnancy rate in in the developed world (see map)? In fact, "pro-life" people should like contraception, since it would lower the rate of abortions and terminations of unwanted pregnancies. America's domestic program of withholding important sexual information and instead supplying abstinence-only programs has been listed as a human rights concern by Human Rights Watch.

The US's foreign policy relating to aid for AIDS program not only needs more funding — one improvement this administration has brought about — but the abstinence requirement must be dropped. Who knows how many have contracted STDs and died because of lack of proper education of sex, and lack of options. There is nothing promiscuous about governments handing out condoms or information on contraception. Withholding those devices and that information is harmful to cause of most of us who want to stop the spread of AIDS and let a woman choose whether she wants to get pregnant.

1 comment:

JaMalle said...

As someone who is Pro-Life, I whole-heartedly agree with this post. Spending tons of money on abstinence programs is a waste, yes a complete waste. At least priority should be emphazied on safe sex.

I know I just heard this somewhere in a report, but it said that an African country created a program in which they passed out condoms and educated people on safe sexual practice which significanlty lowered the rate of HIV/AIDs.

Come on 'Merica, if we aren't going to learn from our own mistakes, let's at least learn from other countries' good-doings.

I can't wait for the countdown until Bush is done. lol