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The Ugandan Way


Good-news details slowing coming out about the AIDS/Africa plan: from today’s New York Times:

In some respects, the initiative, modeled after a program developed in Uganda, dovetails neatly with Mr. Bush’s conservative views. The Ugandan effort relies on what is known as the “ABC approach.” The message is: First, abstain. If you can’t abstain, be faithful. If you can’t be faithful, use a condom.

Edward C. Green, a medical anthropologist at Harvard School of Public Health, has followed the Ugandan program, which began in 1986. He offers the following statistics as evidence that “partner reduction,” as he calls it, is the single most effective way of reducing the spread of AIDS.

At the peak of the Ugandan epidemic, in 1991, an estimated 21 percent of Ugandans were infected, as measured among pregnant women. By 1995, 95 percent of Ugandans from age 15 to 49 reported having either no sexual partners in the previous year or just one partner.

By 2001, the infection rate had dropped to 6 percent — a dip experts say reflects a reduction in high-risk behavior, but also the fact that large numbers of people had died.

“The A-word, abstinence, has become a political lightning rod,” said Professor Green, whose views have made him a hot property among conservatives in Washington these days. “As soon as my colleagues hear it, they say, `This is the Bush administration moralizing.’ I wish we didn’t even have that word in our vocabulary.”


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