United Nations Study Shows Abstinence Education Lowering HIV/AIDS Rate
by Steven Ertelt
July 30, 2008
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A new study by the United Nations makes it clear that the abstinence education message is making a clear impact in the African HIV/AIDS rates. The study shows people are engaging in casual sex less often, waiting longer to start having sex, and infection rates are dropping.
The report says that, in Zimbabwe, there has been a drop in the infection rate among pregnant women from 26% in 2002 to 18% in 2006 and that abstinence is playing a role in encouraging people to have less casual sex.
In nations like Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, and others, younger people are reportedly waiting longer to begin having sex. In Cameroon, the UN study says the percentage of children under 15 having sex has dropped from 35% to 14%.
Fewer people are dying — a decline of 200,000 from 2006-2007 — and new infections dropped by 300,000 last year.
Though the abstinence message has helped, the UN study says more focus need to be placed on it so prevention can hold down the numbers of new cases.
"The global HIV epidemic cannot be reversed, and gains in expanding treatment access cannot be sustained, without greater progress in reducing the rate of new HIV infections," the report says.
Evidence of the effectiveness of abstinence education in combating the AIDS crisis appeared as early as 2004.
In an op-ed in the Washington Post in December 2004, investigative writer Carey Roberts took a look at the Ugandan success story.
A focus on abstinence education "has been carried out in Uganda over the past 15 years," Roberts writes.
"There, a massive public education campaign was mounted … and religious organizations were tapped to play key roles," Roberts explained.
"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.
"Uganda has consequently become one of the rare success stories on a continent that is being ravaged by the HIV/Aids epidemic," the London Sunday Herald newspaper previously reported. "While the rate of new infections continues to increase in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Uganda has succeeded in lowering its very high infection rates."
Professor Francis Omaswa, the director of Uganda’s health ministry, said abstinence was the reason for the decline.
"[Condoms] are not the main reason for the drop in our HIV rates," Omaswa explains. "Our most important achievement has been to change sexual behavior. There is more responsible sex full stop."
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