by Steven Ertelt
January 17, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — First Lady Laura Bush on Sunday during a tour of African nations called the Bush Administration’s abstinence-based plan for combating the AIDS epidemic in Africa the best response against the deadly disease. She said the plan is based on a successful program in Uganda.
"The whole plan all along has been Uganda’s plan," which includes abstinence and fidelity in marriage.
"I’m always a little bit irritated when I hear the criticism of abstinence, because abstinence is absolutely 100% effective in eradicating a sexually transmitted disease," she explained.
"In many countries where girls feel obligated to comply with the wishes of men, girls need to know that abstinence is a choice," she said.
Her comments pleased pro-life groups, including Dr. Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America.
“Mrs. Bush should be applauded for taking a stand for abstinence and supporting her husband’s policy on this important issue,” Crouse said.
“She has offered hope and encouragement to many young girls in Africa," Crouse explained. "By taking a bold stand for women’s rights, Mrs. Bush has helped girls realize that their lives do have value, and that they deserve the utmost respect.”
More than 60 percent of the 40 million people worldwide infected with the AIDS virus live in sub-Saharan Africa. South Africa has the highest number of HIV-infected people in the world.
As a model for success, many point to a key anti-AIDS program in the African nation of Uganda that shows how focus on abstinence can decrease infection rates.
Washington-area investigative writer Carey Roberts wrote in a Washington Times article in late 2004 that Uganda has been using abstinence to combat AIDS for 15 years.
"The results were impressive: the HIV infection rate in Uganda dropped from 15 percent to 5 percent. In 1991, 21 percent of pregnant women had the deadly HIV virus. Ten years later, that figure had dropped to 6 percent," Roberts wrote in the Times article.
In fact, only 6.2% of Ugandans in the 15-49 age group are now HIV-positive, compared with more than 15% in the early 1990s.
Bush spoke with reporters at the start of a four-day trip to Liberia, Ghana and Nigeria.
On Tuesday, the First Lady visited a clinic in Ghana that treats HIV-positive patients and met with children whose parents have died from HIV/AIDS-related causes or who are HIV-positive.