NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Abstinence Prevents AIDS in Africa

February 18, 2003

AIDS is a devastating problem in Africa, causing many countries to trying anything to confront the disease. Most advocate better condom use. However, a new program promoting abstinence is yielding results in Uganda.

Since the mid-1980s, Uganda's anti-AIDS program has stressed abstinence and marriage as a defense against the disease. Despite complaints of moralistic control, the policy is proving effective:

  • In one Ugandan district, almost 60 percent of youths ages 13 to 16 reportedly engaged in sexual activity in 1994, but by 2001 , the number had plummeted to less than 5 percent.
  • A U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) study reports that compared to men in other sub-Saharan African countries, Uganda males are "less likely to have ever had sex, more likely to be married and keep sex within marriage, and less likely to have multiple partners."

The policy has proven effective:

  • In Uganda, the national HIV prevalence peaked at about 15 percent in 1991 and fell to five percent by 2001.
  • This dramatic decline in prevalence is unique worldwide
  • Researcher Rand Stoneburners says Uganda's approach has been almost as effective as an HIV vaccine.

Source: Rich Lowry, "The HIV Vaccine that No One Wants,", December 6, 2002.


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