Policies that kill?
December 1, 2003 12:08 AM   Subscribe

Starting with this year's State of the Union address, President Bush began a plan to increase aid to Africa, and at the center of that plan is funding to prevent the spread of AIDS and HIV that has reached epidemic proportions on the continent. Critics however, have noted that aid to clinics comes with strings attached. Abstinence is preached first and foremost and condoms are mentioned only as a last resort. This reporter flat out says the policy to curtail the funding and use of condoms in Africa is killing millions.
posted by mathowie (32 comments total)

 
Here's the report she cites, "Access Denied" by Population Action International.
posted by homunculus at 12:50 AM on December 1, 2003


it's an absolute disgrace, killing off a target market like that. isn't this an abominable affront to the capitalist god?
posted by quonsar at 1:12 AM on December 1, 2003


It's one thing to get HIV through drug use or unprotected sex, but it is expecially disheartening for a child to get it through their parents. I would like to ask for a short moment of silence for the innocent ones who are born into this terrible affliction.
posted by Keyser Soze at 1:22 AM on December 1, 2003


It's one thing to get HIV through drug use or unprotected sex, but it is expecially disheartening for a child to get it through their parents. I would like to ask for a short moment of silence for the innocent ones who are born into this terrible affliction.

You know, there is a drug they can use to treat that. The generic version of it costs roughly forty cents for a small vial with enough medicine to treat fifty infants (it takes two small doses). It has a success rate somewhere in the neighbourhood of 90%. It is not, however, widely used, as the scare tactics of big drug companies in the west have left many countries too hesitant to allow these generic brands across their borders.

That's pretty fucking disgusting.
posted by The God Complex at 1:31 AM on December 1, 2003


Dean's HIV/AIDS policy. Clark's global AIDS policy, Clark's domestic AIDS policy. Both candidates emphasize condom use, Clark also mentions abstinence while Dean refers to "progressive education on safe behaviors" instead. Notably, Dean is also a medical doctor and outspoken abortion supporter, including so-called "partial birth" abortion, which Clark did not know enough about to comment on. I would say that both guys would be more capable of reducing the AIDS problem than Bush, but Dean's language seems more straightforward and less apologetic.

On generic drugs, Dean says: "I will reject the Bush Administration’s trade policies, replacing them with a trade policy that promotes developing nations’ access to essential medicines, including low-cost quality generic medication, without creating burdensome procedural roadblocks." Clark says nothing about trade policies. He comes across as a bit of a Clinton clone.
posted by Eloquence at 1:40 AM on December 1, 2003


Wow, now that is pretty fucking disgusting. Have a link?
posted by Keyser Soze at 1:40 AM on December 1, 2003


I read it in the September issue of The Progressive, but there's an online transcript of the article here.
posted by The God Complex at 1:55 AM on December 1, 2003


I would just like to add here, as it seems as good a place as any...

Fuck the Catholic Church for it's deliberate, premeditated and evil misinformation campaign against less educated peoples, that AIDS can "pass through microscopic holes in condoms," which are "therefore" ineffective in the fight against the spread of AIDS.

Fuck you Pope, cardinals and associated Catholic henchmen, for lying to people as a means to propagate your dogma.

Thankyou. That feels much better.
posted by Blue Stone at 2:29 AM on December 1, 2003


The relentless spread of Aids is making a mockery of one of Africa's key development goals: to overcome poverty by stimulating new business.
Indeed, there is growing fear that Aids will result in quite the opposite, with some companies scaling back their operations or deserting the worst-hit areas altogether.
In southern Africa the impact of Aids is already tearing apart many existing businesses and destroying the livelihoods of those who have already suffered enough.
The World Bank has recently put out the bleakest of bleak assessments of the long-term economic impact of Aids, confronting the chilling scenario of what happens when a generation of workers dies.
The Bank's report predicts that child labour could be commonplace within the next two generations, as orphans are left to fend for themselves and the traditional earners of the family die.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/3283183.stm



posted by matteo at 2:38 AM on December 1, 2003


Fuck you Pope

are ya gonna take him from the rear?
bend him over the altar?
will he keep the funny hat on?
you could do some interesting things with that big gold cup.
will you be using a condom?
posted by quonsar at 2:41 AM on December 1, 2003


quonsar, I'll be using you as the condom.
posted by Blue Stone at 3:22 AM on December 1, 2003


*nods*
posted by quonsar at 4:14 AM on December 1, 2003


my priest says microscopic holes in the AIDS virus can allow condoms to pass through, you know.
posted by quonsar at 4:18 AM on December 1, 2003


Interestingly enough, the "holes in condoms" story was broken by the BBC's Sex and the Holy City Panorama programme, one of the rare examples of real investigative journalism on TV. They demonstrated that the exact same myth was propagated by clerics throughout the world, from Asia to Africa to South America, so that there must have been high level instructions to do so. The story was broken shortly before the Nobel Peace Prize announcement and may have been a decisive factor for preventing JP II from getting the award (the Church had used its entire lobbying power and will do so again next year).

This is, of course, the same Church which instructed its employees to cover up any and all allegations of child sexual abuse or be excommunicated, so given that they have institutionalized the rape of children, it shouldn't come as a surprise that they don't have much respect for the lives of savages.
posted by Eloquence at 4:32 AM on December 1, 2003


Eloquence, this is indeed the programme I watched... in increasing horror as I realised the scope of orchestration by the Vatican (as opposed to the simple ignorance and superstition of native peoples.)

Whatever I thought of the Catholic Church beforehand (and it wasn't really that positive an opinion) witnessing the extent by which it is enthusiastic to sacrifice the lives of it's uninformed and trusting believers across the world, in this manner in order to uphold it's prohibition agains contraception is beyond revolting.

They might as well have been active participants in the gassing of Jews, for the credibility which the entire organisation now has for me.

And on that bombshell...
posted by Blue Stone at 4:59 AM on December 1, 2003


it is to humanity's everlasting shame that while Almighty God clearly desires his church servants to be fuckin' them some kiddypooter at frequent intervals, abominable heretics like yourself make it necessary to engage in the same vigorous lobbying efforts you decry so piteously. truly, it is due to your willful ignorance of the mind of the Creator that lobbyists grow fat while cathedrals remain unbuilt. surely Christ shall come again, take his Bride and rule a millenium - this dream illuminates our souls, it gleams as sharply as sunglow through stained glass reflects off the surface of the fresh ejaculate of altar boys spattering the confessional carpet at midday.
posted by quonsar at 5:05 AM on December 1, 2003


the policy to curtail the funding and use of condoms in Africa is killing millions
Sounds like a racist conspiracy.
posted by mischief at 5:05 AM on December 1, 2003


Don't know about racist conspiracies but there most definitely is an agenda that excludes persons with AIDS, most especially gays with AIDS, as unworthy of compassion.

Lest anyone should forget Jerry Falwell elucidated this very clearly for us several years ago when he said "AIDS is God's judgment on a society that does not live by its rules."

I say the Jerry Falwells of the world is God's judgment upon a society that allows fear and demonization to dominate its policies and religious institutions.
posted by nofundy at 6:21 AM on December 1, 2003


Hmmm...social change through fear. Sounds about right to me.
posted by grefo at 6:31 AM on December 1, 2003


I think there is something to be said for the teaching of abstinence... particularly in South Africa where promiscuity is the norm.

Honestly, these people are in this mess partly because of dirty needles and dirty transfusions, but mostly because there is a culture of promiscuity.

Air dropping condoms on mud-brick villages may help with a portion of the prevention, but it's still not a holistic solution for a people who have nearly completely alien notions about sex compared with your average westerner. Even if you wear a condom every time you screw someone who is HIV+ you're still putting yourself at tremendous risk... and on a long enough timeline (say, 10 partners a week over a year) condoms will eventually fail to protect you.

In this instance, curtailing the African culture of promiscuity by attaching some taboos to the sex act could save lives.

Remember, this is Africa... not your local high school we're talking about here.

In a perfect world we would all be able to fuck whoever we wanted to without any consequences or repercussions... until we attain that perfect, birth-controled world solutions will be varied on how to decrease the spread of HIV/AIDS in different parts of the world.
posted by wfrgms at 7:38 AM on December 1, 2003


even if you wear a condom every time you screw someone who is hiv+ you're still putting yourself at tremendous risk... and a long enough timeline (say, 10 partners a week over a year) condoms will eventually fail to protect you.

wfrgms, where are you getting this from? How are you qualifying "tremendous risk"?

I would think it would be easier and more reasonable to teach condom use to a "culture of promiscuity" rather than abstinence. The first involves adding an additional step to the behavior, the second involves modifying the behavior completely.

Attaching some taboos to the sex act? Are you serious? What gives you the right to attach a personal morality to someone else's sexual freedom? Because AIDS is cured/eradicated by making sex shameful? If gay sex wasn't such a taboo subject in 1980s America, perhaps our government would have acted faster and saved a whole lotta lives.

I think I understand that you are saying that sex education in general is needed in impoverished Africa in order to help stop the spread of AIDS, but I don't agree that the way to do it is to create artifical taboos. It certainly hasn't worked in the U.S. Education (which leads people to make personal abstinence choices) and condoms have curtailed the spread of AIDS in America.
posted by archimago at 8:41 AM on December 1, 2003


"Today, on World AIDS Day, nearly150 leading health professionals from across the country, including Deans of Public Health and Nursing Schools, Directors of AIDS Institutes, Editors of Medical Journals and others sent a letter to the newly appointed US Global AIDS Coordinator Randall Tobias seeking assurance that US-funded HIV/AIDS prevention programs be guided by sound public health practices and human rights principles. Underscored in the letter is the need for the US to continue providing sexual education and mass marketing of condoms including to those most vulnerable and hardest to reach -- including men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, and commercial sex workers. Moreover, the health experts call on the administration to assure that aid programs emphasize both protecting the rights of members of these groups and creating an environment where they can seek prevention, care and treatment without fear of being punished and further stigmatized."
Health Experts Urge Bush to Base AIDS Prevention Funding on Best Public Health Practices and Human Rights Principles
posted by madamjujujive at 8:56 AM on December 1, 2003


The thing is, that I don't know of anyone who promotes condoms as the cure-all solution to HIV. Instead, condoms are promoted as part of an overall risk-reduction strategy including monogamy, other forms of sexual activity, and reducing the number of partners.

The problem with the conservative abstinance campaign is that abstinance is not being promoted as a strategy to reduce risk, but the only strategy to reduce risk. Conservatives also brush aside the problem that the women at the highest risk are not always in a position to abstain from sex, but may be able to convince their partners to wear a condom during sex.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:33 AM on December 1, 2003


Compare and contrast the "give 'em condoms" approach with Uganda's success, which first and foremost promotes abstinence and marital fidelity, but also allows for condom usage:

"In the late 1980s, when AIDS first came to Uganda, the Kampala government realized that it was being transmitted through sexual behavior. Authorities rallied religious leaders and others behind a massive campaign to convince the population to change its sexual behavior. "Zero grazing outside of your own field," was the slogan the government used to promote its "ABC." initiative. The message to the Ugandan people: Abstain from sex if you can, Be faithful to your partner, and if this doesn't work, use a Condom.

It worked brilliantly. Unlike most other African nations, the HIV infection rate peaked in 1991, and has been steadily dropping since. Studies show that Ugandans dramatically reduced their risky sexual activity. And this successful program, which was devised wholly by the Ugandans themselves, could be implemented with little money."


I think people--yes, even us icky Republican types--would be much more willing to support the efforts to bring widespread condom usage to Africa to combat the AIDS crisis if there were any proof that it actually worked as well as, or better, than the mainly abstinence-based plans that work in Uganda.
posted by Asparagirl at 12:39 PM on December 1, 2003


I think people--yes, even us icky Republican types--would be much more willing to support the efforts to bring widespread condom usage to Africa to combat the AIDS crisis if there were any proof that it actually worked as well as, or better, than the mainly abstinence-based plans that work in Uganda.

Except that they had condoms. What you quoted shows absolutely no proof that it was the abstinence and not the condoms that helped alleviated the problem. It's likely both, but I still fail to see how there's any logical connection in what you're saying. They are the proof.
posted by The God Complex at 12:44 PM on December 1, 2003


I think people--yes, even us icky Republican types--would be much more willing to support the efforts to bring widespread condom usage to Africa to combat the AIDS crisis if there were any proof that it actually worked as well as, or better, than the mainly abstinence-based plans that work in Uganda.

I think people--yes, even us icky Liberal types--would be much more willing to support risk-reduction programs based on abstinance and relationship fidelity if there were any proof that such an exclusive approach actually worked. Much of the avoidance of the C-word is based on the idea that if condoms were actually available, and their use taught that it will turn people into raving sexual maniacs.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:40 PM on December 1, 2003


Economist Sachs Slams Bush on 'War Agenda,' AIDS
posted by homunculus at 6:15 PM on December 1, 2003


Except that they had condoms. What you quoted shows absolutely no proof that it was the abstinence and not the condoms that helped alleviated the problem.

Except that the majority of the other countries being similiarly hard hit by AIDS and which did not primarily emphasize abstinence/fidelity in their national AIDS programs have skyrocketing infection rates, whereas Uganda's has been declining since 1991. If it was condom availability alone that caused the decline, then why is it only declining so markedly in a country that emphasizes absitnence? Or:

Country A: Primarily promotes fidelty/absitinence as its method of fighting new infections, but also as a last resort has condoms available
Countries B, C, D, E, etc.: Does not make a special emphasis, much less a primary one, of promoting fidelity/abstinence, and also has condoms available, often as a first line of defense.
Country A (Uganda) is doing (relatively) very well in their fight against new infections, Countries B-E have a major problem on their hands with insane infection rates.
Countries A-E all have condoms available. The differing factor appears to be the teaching of abstinence as a primary method to cut transmission and new infections in Country A.

Is it an air-tight proof? No. But surely enough to make one roll one's eyes at the claim that teaching "abstinence first, condoms last" is responsible for millions of deaths when so far the stats say the opposite may be true.
posted by Asparagirl at 7:38 PM on December 1, 2003


From everything I've read the problem is a bit more complicated than condoms vs. abstinence. It's usually related more to what a woman's place in society is, what the economics are like, among other things

Looking at the CIA Factbook pages on Uganda and Kenya, Kenya's got three times the infection rate (15% vs 5%), while most other figures (literacy, economic growth, birth rates) are pretty comperable. Uganda looks like it's better off financially, getting three times as much aid as Kenya and having a slightly higher GDP per capita while half of Kenya's population lives below the poverty line, while just over a third does in Uganda.

It's promising to hear it worked in Uganda, but it could be due to a lot of other factors that separate Uganda from other countries in the region. I think most people don't like the abstinence plan because it involves massive changes in behavior and usually takes place in the absence of birth control. Perhaps the Ugandan program struck a balance, in that condoms were available and used as a last resort. Still before we declare any program better than another, it'd help if we could get some air-tight reaons why.
posted by mathowie at 7:52 PM on December 1, 2003


Here's more:

Last year, with help from the House of Representatives, Bush said no to $34 million, a mere fraction of the additional $87 billion he nabbed for Iraq, designated for the United Nations Population Fund. The UNFPA deals specifically with HIV prevention by distributing contraceptives and even states specifically on its website that from 1994 on, it did not favor abortion as a form of family planning.

That didn't stop Bush from relying upon an extremist group called the Population Research Institute. (If you want to feel truly disheartened about conservative agenda, check out PRI's Map of Shame, in which food assistance aid is weighed against health prevention aid, as if the latter was some kind of irrevocable evil. This organization actually advocates the idea of providing nothing more than food aid to countries, allowing Third World nations with an AIDS epidemic to keep suffering. Presumably for their sinful behavior.)

Last year, Bush bought into the PRI hard line when he removed the monies for the UN Population Fund, citing the Kemp-Kasten Amendment. Kemp-Kasten, approved in 1985, prohibits foreign aid that, as decided upon by the President, "supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization." Thanks to the broad definition of Kemp-Kasten, and despite Bush's very approval of UNPFA funding in 2001 (!), Bush used his presidential authority to pull out. UNPFA actions did not change during that time frame and they were concluded by Clinton and Bush II himself not to be coercive in any manner.

According to the above-linked Salon article, PRI sent Bush a letter with this specific loophole. And sure enough, he used it.

So the question you have to ask yourself is whether Bush really cares about Africans who are told to "go home and die." Because it would seem from his policy that he views contraceptive distribution as either "coercive" or "involuntary."
posted by ed at 8:19 PM on December 1, 2003


Correction: It was New Jersey congressman Chris Smith who sent the letter and relied upon PRI findings for investigating the application of Kemp-Kasten.
posted by ed at 8:32 PM on December 1, 2003


"In the late 1980s, when AIDS first came to Uganda, the Kampala government realized that it was being transmitted through sexual behavior. Authorities rallied religious leaders and others behind a massive campaign to convince the population to change its sexual behavior. "Zero grazing outside of your own field," was the slogan the government used to promote its "ABC." initiative. The message to the Ugandan people: Abstain from sex if you can, Be faithful to your partner, and if this doesn't work, use a Condom."

To me, perhaps the most interesting pertinent part o this passage is in the first sentence: "the Kampala government realized..." Note that that isn't "Prominent European Sex-Scientists realized..." or "Leaders in the Catholic church realized..." Maybe we should remove the strings from AIDS funding in these nations, and allow activists and scientists within the country decide on the best program for fighting AIDS, since they will be far more familiar with the local culture than, for example, a man way off in Washington without even time enough to read a newspaper, much less studies on how to combat AIDS. This isn't to say that local researchers should cut themselves off from the global research community, just that they should read, interpret, apply, and customize findings and methods to best serve their own people.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:45 PM on December 1, 2003


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