Can Abstinence Conquer AIDS in Africa?

By Ed Vitagliano
March 7, 2003

(AgapePress) - Africa is a continent that has been devastated by AIDS, and while the future continues to look grim for many African nations, at least one has made tremendous progress against the epidemic with a "new" approach -- abstinence education.

In the early 1990s, Uganda had one of the worst AIDS problems in the world, with 30% of its population infected with the fatal disease. Then in 1994, the AIDS prevention approach was switched from primarily encouraging condom use to an emphasis on abstinence until marriage. Since that time, Uganda's AIDS infection rate has fallen to its current 10% level.

While Ugandan officials still encourage condom use, infectious disease specialist Dr. Vinand Nantulya, who has advised Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on his AIDS prevention programs, said the nation's people "really never took to condoms."

"Abstinence remains the best strategy, especially for the risk group aged 15-25 years," Kenyan HIV/AIDS activist Dorothy Kwenze told the Cybercast News Service. "The concept has worked well for Uganda and can work equally well for other African countries."

CNSNews also pointed to a study by epidemiologist Rand Stoneburner, who determined that Uganda's AIDS strategy, if implemented across the continent, could reduce Africa's AIDS cases by 80% -- even in the nations with the worst infection rates. Stoneburner formally worked for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

Ed Vitagliano is news editor for AFA Journal, a monthly publication of the American Family Association..