Guttmacher Report on Public Policy Examines Success of ‘Comprehensive’ HIV/AIDS Prevention Efforts in Developing Nations
In the Guttmacher Report on Public Policy this month, Alan Guttmacher Institute Director of Government Affairs Susan Cohen examines the success of "ABC"-based HIV/AIDS prevention programs in developing nations. ABC stands for "Abstinence," "Be Faithful" and "use Condoms," and is the HIV/AIDS prevention model supported by UNAIDS and USAID. The ABC model was first developed by UNAIDS in Uganda more than 10 years ago and has proven successful in lowering that nation's HIV prevalence, although the extent of the program's success has been debated. Cohen writes that although there is "no reason to believe that USAID is currently supporting ABC as anything other than a comprehensive program," the Bush administration's "aggressive support" of abstinence-only sex education in the United States has left some ABC advocates "questioning how long U.S.-supported ABC programs will be allowed to function unfettered." Some abstinence-only education advocates have "seized" on Uganda's success story, claiming that the abstinence component of ABC was largely responsible for the nation's lower HIV prevalence. However, AGI researchers performed an analysis of "national-level" survey data in Uganda and determined that all components of ABC played a role in reducing HIV prevalence in Uganda, "but that, if anything, increased abstinence by itself may have made the smallest contribution to lowering the risk of HIV in Uganda." In light of that fact, Cohen recommends that HIV prevention strategies in developing nations and the United States employ comprehensive sex education, encouraging abstinence and fidelity, but also supporting condom use among sexually active people (Cohen, Guttmacher Report on Public Policy, October 2002).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.