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The U.S. government and the ABCs of HIV/AIDS prevention

November 26, 2004

The November 27 issue of the international medical journal The Lancet features a consensus statement on preventing HIV/AIDS that was signed by over 140 leaders who represent governments, churches, research institutions and relief organizations from around the world. The United States government, however, is conspicuously absent from this list.

The letter argues for a broad, "ABC"-centered approach that would encourage people to avoid infection by delaying or abstaining from sex, being faithful to one partner and using condoms. It also calls for expanded access to healthcare services, including HIV counseling and testing and family planning. Among the signatories is President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, the country that pioneered the ABC approach and has subsequently seen rates of HIV infection plummet. While the U.S. government holds up Uganda as a model for other countries, U.S. rhetoric--and, more importantly, U.S.-funded programs--consistently disparage or undermine the effectiveness of condoms. Failure to endorse the Lancet letter is just the latest in a series of moves that subordinate potentially life-saving programs to an ideological agenda.

Read the Lancet letter here <http://www.thelancet.com/journal/vol364/iss9449/full/llan.364.9449.analysis_and_interpretation.31364.1>.

To learn more about the ABC approach in Uganda and elsewhere, click here.

For an analysis of the limitations of abstinence (A) alone for prevention, click here.

For an analysis of the role monogamy (B) can play in prevention, click here.

For an analysis of condom (C) effectiveness, click here.