Human Exceptionalism

AIDS Epidemic Ameliorating in Africa: ABC Approach Seems to be Working

The UN has an encouraging report out, and it appears that–dare we say it–people restraining their sexual impulses has had a major impact. From the story:

The HIV/Aids epidemic appears to be slowing, as evidence emerges of more cautious sexual behaviour and improved treatment in some of the worst-hit countries of the world, according to a new UN study.

Signs that work on preventing the spread of HIV is bearing fruit are flagged up today by UNAids’ two-yearly report on the state of the epidemic. In Rwanda and Zimbabwe, it finds, fewer people appear to be getting infected, apparently as the dangers of careless sex become better understood.

In Zimbabwe, a drop in infection among pregnant women, from 26% in 2002 to 18% in 2006, is being linked to reports of fewer people having casual sexual partners and fewer men paying for sex.

Condom use also appears to be increasing and in seven badly affected countries–Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Uganda and Zambia–young people appear to be waiting longer before starting to have sex. In Cameroon, the percentage of under-15 year-olds having sex fell from 35% to 14%.

Hmmm: It looks like the often castigated ABC approach is working: A-Abstinence, B-Be Faithful, and if that isn’t done, C-condomize.

More needs to be done, the report says, and that would seem to me to require even greater educational efforts at urging sexual restraint since that is the only sure way to prevent almost all sexual transmission of HIV.

That isn’t moralizing: It is good public health and plain old common sense. HIV is overwhelmingly a venereal disease (although it can certainly be contracted non sexually) and should always have been treated as such.

Why some are hostile to that message is beyond me.