A new report says more
then 25 years into the AIDS epidemic, prevention remains a top priority in
battling the disease. However, it says
donor support for condoms and contraceptives in developing countries remains
stagnant and far below projected needs.
report, from Population Action International, will be formally presented early
next month at the 17th International AIDS Conference in Mexico City.
Some of the highlights were released Tuesday.
Coen, president and CEO of Population Action International (PAI), says, "We
really have to start looking at the future of the world and people's lives
around this disease. And that means we have to work on making sure that it's
not spread any further. Prevention has got to be integrated into policies and
funding and programs at all levels of people's lives. We have to do all we can
to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS."
says abstinence is against human nature and therefore not a reliable prevention
method. "Sexual activity is a strong human drive. It's a very good part, a
happy part, hopefully, of all marriages and most relationships. Asking people
to stop having sex may sound good but has never worked any time in history. And
it isn't working now," she says.
Coen says prevention must include both condoms
and contraceptives, which can prevent unwanted pregnancies and mother-to-child
transmission of the AIDS virus.
"We really, really have to scale up and integrate
condoms and contraceptives into HIV prevention. I don't think people realize
that contraceptives are indeed a prevention strategy and they are…. They have
to be available. You can't walk two days to a clinic with a baby on your back
and find out there are no contraceptives in the clinic," she says.
Also speaking at a news conference Tuesday was
the report's co-author, Dr. Karen Hardee, who says in recent years the use of
condoms has been deemphasized in favor of abstinence. She says, "An assessment
was done a few years ago that showed that fewer than half of the people who
wanted to use a condom during a sex act could obtain one. That's inexcusable 20
years into the HIV epidemic. And despite the fact that there are 2.5 million
new HIV infections that occur every year, overall donor support in developing
countries for condoms has remained largely unchanged over the past few years.
Of the estimated 18 billion condoms that were needed in 2006, for example,
donors provided just 2.3 billion. So not even half, not even a quarter," she
The report criticized the US PEPFAR program
started by President Bush, saying it emphasized abstinence over condoms. PEPFAR
officials have denied this, saying condoms have been a major part of the
program. But they also say abstinence and being faithful did not receive enough