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Brazil officials says abstinence efforts do not slow HIV's spread

Brazil officials says abstinence efforts do not slow HIV's spread

There is no evidence that promoting abstinence or marital fidelity is effective in the global fight against HIV, a Brazilian health official told a meeting of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development on Wednesday. "Based on international experiences, today there is no evidence whatsoever that moral recommendations, such as abstinence and fidelity, have any impact that might prevent infection and curb the epidemic," says Paulo Texeira, senior coordinator of Sao Paulo's AIDS program. Most of the Bush administration's overseas AIDS programs are based on the "ABC" approach, which stands for "Abstinence, be faithful, and use condoms." However, a recent study in Uganda showed that the abstinence segment of the country's ABC program could not explain the drop in AIDS incidence, leading researchers to suggest it was due to condom use. "We are aware that the promotion of safer sex involves serious cultural, ethical, and religious matters, but we cannot allow them to become a barrier for prevention," says Texeira, whose native Brazil has one of the developing world's most effective AIDS programs. "Our governments and institutions should decisively cope with these difficulties if they expect to be successful in controlling the epidemic." U.S. envoy Sichan Siv says Washington's global AIDS programs focus on supporting individual governments' own strategies. "We base our effective prevention strategies on what works for the culture and circumstances of each place, with the individuals and groups we are targeting," said Siv. In closed negotiating sessions at the meeting, the United States proposed inserting antiabortion language into draft resolutions on AIDS and development. According to family planning activists, the language--supported by Egypt, Qatar, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica--is intended to influence national decisions on family planning funding. The U.N. commission was scheduled to consider the resolutions on Friday, said diplomats. (Reuters)

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