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House Passes Bureaucratic and Politically Correct Solutions to Alleviate AIDS Crisis

For Immediate Release. May 5, 2003On May 1, 2003, the House of Representatives passed, by a 375-41 vote, the United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act H.R. 1298.  The measure would allocate $15 billion during the next five years through direct loans and multilateral grants for AIDS and HIV prevention, treatment, and care to 12 nations in Africa where 30 million have been infected, as well as to Haiti and Guyana.  Unfortunately, H.R. 1298 is flawed (as is much legislation in Washington) and once again squanders the hard-earned taxpayers money on bureaucracy and hypothetical snake oil. 

The best way to protect oneself from sexually transmitted diseases such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is through sexual abstinence.  Another method proposed to be just as effective is condom use.  However, when used correctly, condoms are still not 100 percent effective against the HIV virus and provide a relative protection rate of approximately 85 percent.  For example, in Cambodia, brothel-based sex workers have the highest prevalence of HIV.  A 100 percent condom use program was implemented in the port city of SihnoukVille in 1999 among female sex workers in response to a 40 percent HIV prevalence rate found among the brothel based sex workers.  Researchers from the University of California San Francisco Center for AIDS Prevention examined this population in a study entitled, “HIV and correlates of consistent condom use among fishermen who have sex with sex workers, SihanoukVille, Cambodia, 2000.”  The researchers found that one half of the fishermen surveyed used condoms consistently with sex workers despite a 100 percent use program in SihanoukVille.  And more likely to hold a misconception on how HIV is transmitted were fishermen who actually used condoms consistently with sex workers. 

An alternative to condom programs to provide effective HIV/AIDS prevention has been provided by an integrated behavioral modification approach called “Abstinence, “Be faithful” and “Use Condoms,” or “ABC” in Uganda.  An infection rate of 18.5 percent, was afflicting Uganda in 1995 when it started to address HIV/AIDS by emphasizing abstinence.   The rate declined to 6.1 percent by 2000.  Compared to other nations where condom programs predominated, such a reduction in the rate of infection has not been observed.  Furthermore, in an article by Arthur Allan in the New Republic entitled “Sex Change: Uganda vs. Condoms,” the author wrote “Condoms had relatively little to do with it.”    The Bush administration has indicated that it supports the approach of ABC to combat the spread of AIDS based on behavioral change.  However, in order to be politically correct, the Bush administration also seems to endorse condom use as another effective method for preventing HIV. 

Tragically, local culture and tradition are not accounted for or respected by the language of H.R. 1298.  To receive funding for abstinence programs these countries would be forced to accept condom promotion, which is contrary to the belief of people living in these regions who are Christians and Muslims.  For example, in an all boys school in Nairobi, only one family out of 600 families that the school serves wanted their children to be taught that condoms protect against HIV/AIDS. 

Conservatives in the House have falsely convinced themselves that they have taken a moral stand through the bill and have won a great victory in the battle of promoting morality by allowing a third of the money provided by this measure to promote sexual abstinence.  However, abstinence has not been given a priority by this legislation and every time abstinence is mentioned condoms are also mentioned as being just as effective.  

Within minutes of passage of H.R. 1298, the White House released a statement applauding what President Bush called “historic legislation.”  The scientific literature is rich with studies that indicate that the global AIDS epidemic presents a grave and great threat to developing nations.  However, H.R. 1298 does not provide adequately enough real solutions to address this divesting disease.  Sadly, conservatives, lawmakers and the President convey a message that they are not whole-heartedly committed to promoting pro-family values by supporting and touting H.R. 1298.  Both nationally as well as globally, children and adults need to be told the absolute truth that abstinence is the only true protection against sexually transmitted disease such as AIDS as well as the basis for a morally and healthy life-style.  “Morality is an all or none principle,” said Dr. Joel P. Rutkowski, president of the American Voice Institute of Public Policy.  “Abstinence and fidelity are the only way to defeat the AIDS crisis in these countries.  It is morally and ethically wrong for federal funds to be used to tell the people of these nations to use condoms.”

For Interviews Contact:

Joel P. Rutkowski, P.h.D.
President, The American Voice Institute Of Public Policy

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