The US Spent $1.4 Billion in Africa Telling People Not to Have Sex and It Didn’t Work

Friday, May 6, 2016

The United States has spent $1.4 billion over the last decade on promoting abstinence in Africa as a way to slow the spread of HIV. It hasn’t helped, according to a study published this week in Health Affairs, and may be causing more harm than good.

 Researchers Nathan C. Lo, Anita Lowe, and Eran Bendavid from the Stanford School of Medicine evaluated the health records of 500,000 men and women in 22 African countries that receive funding for abstinence promotion from a US initiative, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief better known as PEPFAR, and those that do not.

The program follows the “ABC approach“—abstinence until marriage, be faithful to one’s spouse, and correct and consistent condom use—also known as “abstinence plus.” The goal is to dissuade youth from becoming sexually active at an early age, limit the number of sexual partners, and reduce teen pregnancy.

The researchers, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Stanford’s Center on the Demography and Economics of Health and Aging, found that PEPFAR funding had no discernible effect on the number of sexual partners people had or how early they became sexually active. Rates of teen pregnancy were also the same in countries receiving PEPFAR funding and those without.

Source: Quartz (link opens in a new window)

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