AIDS Can't be Fought with Sunshine and Puppies

| Fri Dec. 1, 2006 7:18 PM EST

According to a story in today's Boston Globe , a number of faith-based organizations used this year's World AIDS Day to lash out at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS (a $6.6 billion organization that supports programs in 136 countries).

Peter L. Brandt, a senior director at Focus on the Family, thinks Congress should cut all spending on the Global Fund's HIV programs, saying that the Fund concentrates too heavily on condoms and discriminates against organizations like his.

They should instead focus on spreading the abstinence message? A lot of good that's done here.

In the Global South, where HIV is spreading fastest, abstinence and marriage are not adequate protection against the deadly virus. To the contrary, it is often the primary site of infection, especially for women. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof writes, "the stark reality is that what kills young women [in Africa] is often not promiscuity, but marriage. Indeed, just about the deadliest thing a women in southern Africa can do is get married."

Crosscheck that with the following:

-In South Africa, studies suggest that "marital partnerships are mainly responsible for adolescent female [HIV] infection." Studies in Kenya and Zambia show that adolescent girls have an increased risk of HIV infection when they marry significantly older men. (International Center for Research on Women and Population Service)

-In a study of Zambian women, fewer than 25% of the participants believed that a married woman could refuse to have sex with her husband, even if she knew he had been unfaithful or was HIV-positive. Only 11% of participants believed that a woman could ask her husband to use a condom in these circumstances. (United Nation's Fund for Women).

-On Colombia's Atlantic Coast, about half of HIV-positive women are "housewives with a stable partner." (World Health Organization)

Latex anyone?

—Koshlan Mayer-Blackwell

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