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Condoms, AIDS and Research

BY Tom Hoopes

| Posted 3/17/09 at 5:35 PM

 

To continue last post: The research backs up the Pope, too.

Last year, the Register spoke with secular experts who said that, in many places, condom promotion actually increases AIDS.

We explained, in Grace Candiru’s recent story about Uganda:

Edward Green is director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. He wrote Rethinking AIDS Prevention: Learning From Successes in Developing Countries and reported that, between 1989 and 2001, the average number of condoms per male ages 15 to 49 in African countries skyrocketed. So did the number of those infected with HIV. South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe had the world’s highest levels of condom availability per man. They also had the world’s highest HIV rates.

Norman Hearst is a family physician and epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco.

UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, asked Hearst to do a scientific review to see if condom promotions had reversed HIV/AIDS epidemics. His review found the contrary was true. Countries with the most condoms per man tended to have the highest HIV rates. UNAIDS refused to publish Hearst’s findings.

“Condom promotion in Africa has been a disaster,” Hearst said.

Nearly every country on the continent has vigorously promoted condoms to stem the tide of the AIDS epidemic there. But the epidemic has only grown larger.

Uganda, on the other hand, has experienced the greatest decline in HIV prevalence of any country in the world, according to the Heritage Foundation. The Ugandan public education campaign against AIDS mentioned condoms, but emphasized abstinence.

Studies show that from 1991 to 2001 HIV infection rates in Uganda declined from about 15% to 5%.

“The Ugandan model has the most to teach the rest of the world,” said Green. “This policy should guide the development of programs in Africa and the Caribbean.”

Jeff Spieler, chief of the research division in the U.S. Agency for International Development population office, said, “It just happens to be where the evidence is pointing.”