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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I have a friend serving in the Peace Corps in Uganda. He has started working with two organizations and is trying to get them to teach education about condoms in secondary schools. Sounds like a great idea, right? Right. Except that Uganda follows the ABC’s of sexual education. Abstinence, Be Faithful, and Correct and Consistent use of Condoms…in that order. We can thank, among others, PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) for this policy that is bound to assist in unwanted pregnancies and the spread of STIs including HIV.

As we know humans are sexual. You can tell kids they should remain abstinent until marriage, you can tell them to be faithful to their partners, you can tell them all of this until the cows come home. In reality, be it in western countries like the United States or developing countries like Uganda, if someone wants to have sex, they will. End of story.

My friend’s story makes me think of an internship I had a little while ago where I did research on policies like PEPFAR and their effects. I learned that there are many organizations throughout the world that want to help in the promotion of condom use throughout the developing world, primarily for the prevention of STIs like HIV. They are unfortunately hindered by the policy of ABC. If they get money through the PEPFAR program, which many of them do, they have to follow the rules strictly, or they could get their funding pulled. Now technically, and someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the rule is a little gray as to whether they can technically give out condoms. However, for fear of losing money, I believe that most do not – possibly none. This basically cancels out C. You can’t really teach people to use condoms correctly and consistently if they can’t actually get them. In addition there are misinformation campaigns, which vilify condoms, in these countries like this one, (in an article from LifeSite News, and I use the word “news” loosely as this is an anti “news” website.)

It frustrates me to no end that we have a way to help in the prevention of STIs and unwanted pregnancies, organizations who want to do this work, but there are people who want to put up barriers to healthcare because they want to push their moral agenda on everyone else.


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