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What’s wrong with promoting condoms to stop AIDS in Africa?

Billions of condoms have been shipped to Africa every year in order to prevent the spread of HIV.[1] However, countries that have relied on such “protection” to curb the epidemic are not seeing any great decline in the virus. this is very difficult to understand.

One nation that clearly demonstrates this problem is Botswana. For over a decade Botswana has relied upon widespread availability of condoms in order to combat AIDS. Campaigns for abstinence and fidelity were not emphasized. Instead, billboards about “safe sex” lined the streets, while school children learned songs about condoms. According to The Washington Post, “The anti-AIDS partnership between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and drug maker Merck budgeted $13.5 million for condom promotion – 25 times the amount dedicated to curbing dangerous sexual behavior. But soaring rates of condom use have not brought down high HIV rates. Instead, they rose together, until both were among the highest in Africa.”

Unfortunately, Botswana was not the only nation to make this mistake. The journal Studies in Family Planning pointed this out in their article “Condom Promotion for AIDS Prevention in the Developing World: Is It Working?” Its authors noted that “in many sub-Saharan African countries, high HIV transmission rates have continued despite high rates of condom use… No clear examples have emerged yet of a country that has turned back a generalized epidemic primarily by means of condom promotion.”

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