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Tobias defends funding of overseas abstinence programs

Tobias defends funding of overseas abstinence programs

U.S. global AIDS coordinator Randall Tobias on Thursday defended the funding of HIV prevention programs overseas that stress abstinence as the best way to prevent HIV infections, Agence France-Presse reports. The U.S. Agency for International Development last week announced the first grants under the five-year, $15 billion President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and most of the money, given to five organizations, is directed at promoting abstinence among young people and supporting children affected by AIDS. PEPFAR stresses the "ABC" HIV prevention model--practice abstinence, be faithful, use condoms--when financing overseas HIV programs. The law authorizing PEPFAR specifically reserves one third of U.S. international AIDS funding for abstinence and monogamy programs. Tobias, who was in Berlin for the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS 2004 awards ceremony, says statistics show "condoms really have not been very effective" in preventing the spread of HIV worldwide, noting that abstinence and monogamy are "far more effective." "I think one needs only to look at what's happening with infection rates in the world to recognize that [condom use] has not been working." He added, "Delaying sexual activity is a means of eliminating the risk of infection."

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