Friday, August 1, 2008

UN Study Proves Abstinence Reduces AIDS

Well, the evidence is over-whelming and the United Nations has finally had to admit that behavioral change is the best way of fighting AIDS, not throwing condoms at the problem.

But, they couldn't help themselves by still pushing condoms into the forefront of reporting the story:

The 2008 Report on the global AIDS epidemic, produced by the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), is the most comprehensive review of the epidemic to date with 147 countries reporting data on HIV.

It notes, among other things, that the combined efforts of governments, civil society and affected communities can make a difference in saving lives.

For example, changes in sexual behaviour in countries such as Rwanda and Zimbabwe have led to a decline in the number of new HIV infections, and condom use is increasing among young people with multiple partners in many countries. Young people in seven of the most-affected countries, including Burkina Faso and Cameroon, are also waiting longer to have sex.
Let me interpret - because we cannot deny the evidence in this study, we admit that behavioral change (e.g., abstinence and fidelity) are saving lives. But, because we have an agenda to push that includes the western-values of sexual license, we have to still give condoms out and say that they work - though there is no evidence this is the case.

Here is the press release and the whole report. Uganda was the first to see significant decline and the other countries that followed their lead also have. The evidence speaks for itself, now it is time for the pro-choice, pro-condom, pro-sexual license crowd to admit they were wrong.

But, let us all rejoice that there is something good to report in the battle against AIDS.

First Things had a good article on Churches and AIDS recently that I recommend. It advances the same opinion that behavior can be changed and this is the best way to attack AIDS.


Kevin said...

I'm a bit confused by your interpretation of the report. It occurred to me that "behavoiral change" could refer to an increase use of condoms, not an increased practice of abstinence.

Indeed, on pg. 103 the report says: "A central weakness of many prevention initiatives for young people is that they do not speak frankly or provide the accurate, comprehensive information that young people need. Many countries that require HIV education in schools have curricula that prioritize abstinence-focused programming, discouraging forthright discussions
about condoms and safer sex. However, no study in low- and middle-income countries has found this approach to be effective,
and studies in the United States indicate that youth-oriented prevention programmes that exclusively promote abstinence do not reduce the risk of HIV infection (Underhill, Montgomery & Operario, 2007)."

Of course, that's a bit of cherry-picking of the evidence. I haven't had time to read the whole report -- perhaps on the whole, the report gives a different impression. And perhaps the report as a whole skews the evidence. That is, it may be that individual studies report that abstinence education is becoming successful, but the report itself minimizes it.

Still, it seems somewhat misleading to state that the evidence in this study proves that abstinence works better than condom use in AIDs prevention.

Marcel said...

Kevin - The evidence is in the raw data. Check out the links I gave and then these two:

Kevin said...

Interesting links. I can't help but notice that of the six links you posted, two are to the report and report announcement. Of the other four, two link to Catholic resources. The two that you give don't seem to lead to raw data. Instead, they link to pro-life websites.

In other words, the four that condemn the report for being biased in favor of condoms seem to have substantial biases of their own.

I'm not saying that their interpretation of the data is wrong; it's just that your conclusion in original post lacks evidence for the clear-cut, data-driven conclusion that you assert.

Marcel said...

I do admit to trusting Catholic sources more than the pro-abortion UN and the population fund (UNFPA) and UNICEF, who have proven their leanings thousands of times.

I suggest you read the report. Notice on pages 125-126, they admit that Uganda has had the best success and it was due to changing behaviors (not increase in condom usage. They do question the long-term effectiveness, but can't deny it has worked.

In other words, you have to read through the rhetoric to get to the meat. They admit the best-practice is what Uganda has done, yet they still want more condoms without any shred of evidence that it works.

Kevin said...

I looked at the pages that you suggest. The report doesn't mention why Uganda has the most success, but they do state that the average age of first sexual intercourse increased there (pg. 105), as well as Mozambique and Rwanda. It also says (on the same page) that most people are sexually active by age 18. Does this indicate that the message of abstinence until marriage is working? Depends on when people get married, I suppose. And whether the same message is being spread in the other countries.

Should also note that on pg. 120 the graph shows a significant increase in condom usage in Uganda by a restricted demographic. How does this relate?

However, if the UN report is inherently untrustworthy, while Catholic sources are presumed true (regardless of their own biases that may skew interpretations) these issues matter little.


matthew archbold said...

I can't understand Kevin's dilemma here. He's choosing to define "changing behavior" as condom usage even though it's clearly not meant as such.
It just goes to show that no matter what the facts say, those who don't want to hear the truth won't.

Kevin said...

Sorry, but I'm not choosing to define "changing behavior" as anything in particular; rather, I'm raising the possibility that the term may mean something other than what it was defined as in the original post. It could very well mean "abstinence," but that's not what it says. Perhaps it's referring to other kinds of "changing behavior," such as a lower incidence of sexual violence.

Given that the report explicitly condemns abstinence-only education, you're left either with the choice that "changing behavior" means something else, or the conclusion of the original post, that it does refer to abstinence but the UN is so biased in favor of condom use that they're falsifying their own report.

But the charge of falsifying their report is undermined by the fact that the charge is made by pro-life and Catholic organizations. These organizations have well-known biases of their own -- because they believe that abstinence is the morally and theologically right choice to make in terms of sexual relations, they are pre-disposed to be in favor of any claim that is made supporting their ideas.

All of this is a particularly long-winded way of saying that the conclusion in the original post seems to be on shaky ground. After all, if you can't trust the UN report because of its biases, can you trust pro-life sources in spite of their biases?