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E.U. leaders urge
Africans to reject Bush’s abstinence push

E.U. leaders urge
Africans to reject Bush’s abstinence push

In a statement released to mark World AIDS Day, European leaders tacitly urged African governments to reject abstinence-only HIV prevention efforts being pushed by the Bush administration, the U.K. paper The Guardian reports. "We are profoundly concerned about the resurgence of partial or incomplete messages on HIV prevention which are not grounded in evidence and have limited effectiveness," the statement says.

Although the statement does not specifically name the Bush administration as the proponent of global abstinence efforts, many European leaders have publicly expressed concern that the United States requires much of its global AIDS funding to go to abstinence programs. They say some cash-strapped African nations, like Uganda, are so desperate for any AIDS grants that they are willing to downplay safer-sex initiatives or even curtail condom distribution programs in order to get U.S. funds.

The statement from the 22-member European Union calls on governments of every developing nation to use a full array of HIV prevention methods, including those opposed by the U.S. government, to help reduce rising HIV infection rates. This includes condom distribution efforts as well as needle-exchange programs for injection-drug users, which the Bush administration also opposes. "We, the European Union, firmly believe that, to be successful, HIV prevention must utilize all approaches known to be effective, not implementing one or a few selective actions in isolation," the statement says.

AIDS activists in the United Kingdom praised the E.U. World AIDS Day statement. "Abstinence-only is an unrealistic policy in many communities, and a one-size-fits-all approach simply won't work," Fiona Pettit of the U.K. Consortium on AIDS and International Development told The Guardian. Andrew George, a spokesman for the U.K. Liberal Democrats political party added, "In reality, people have sex... much as conservative evangelists in the U.S. might prefer that they didn't," reports The Guardian. (Advocate.com)

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