AIDS prevention demands a holistic approach

Thursday, December 2, 2010; 7:18 PM

Former president George W. Bush's attention to America's role in the global fight against HIV/AIDS is welcome ["AIDS in Africa: Why it's America's fight," op-ed, Dec. 1], yet the absence of HIV prevention in his appeal is striking. While Mr. Bush's legacy for funding and treatment is laudable, when it comes to prevention it is fundamentally flawed.

Discredited abstinence-and-be-faithful (AB-only) programs were central to the strategy of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to prevent sexual transmission of HIV under Mr. Bush. Unfortunately, that strategy continues today. PEPFAR's 2010 operational plan indicates that close to 20 percent of prevention funding is still dedicated to AB-only programs. In Uganda, where unprotected sex is driving the epidemic, the United States is spending more on AB-only programs than on all other programs to prevent sexual transmission. New HIV infections will not subside until PEPFAR embraces truly comprehensive, evidence-based approaches to prevention.

President Obama's legacy should be to put an end to funding abstinence-and-fidelity-only programs.

Serra Sippel, Washington

The writer is president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity.

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