Monday, December 17, 2007

Anti-HIV efforts in Africa: two approaches that work

The Washington Post has a good article on the 'Best-Kept Secret' for reducing HIV in Africa: birth control.

President Bush banned funded to groups that provided or 'promoted' abortion shortly after he took office in 2001. But the article noted that the effects went well-beyond those organizations.

Two of the largest distributors of contraception [in Kenya], Family Health Options Kenya and Marie Stopes Kenya, did not provide abortions, which are illegal in Kenya, but were subsidiaries of London-based parent organizations whose members helped provide them in other countries. Together, the two groups closed five family planning clinics after losing U.S. funding.

In 2003, Bush created something called The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), as a way to circumvent UNAIDS, an organization which it could not sufficiently manipulate. Even if PEPFAR weren't working cross-purposes with internationally coordinated AIDS relief, it hardly makes up for the assault on family planning funding.

An ounce of prevention is a lot cheaper than a pound of cure.

The paper also has a piece on Madagascar's efforts to fight HIV-AIDS. A fight which is apparently working, since the island has the lowest infection rate on the continent. But with Madagascar's economy opening to foreign workers, a situation which often leads to a rise in HIV rates, the importance of continuing these efforts can not be understated.

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