Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Waste of money

Catholic strategy for the prevention of HIV infection can be summed up in 4 words, "Do not have sex".  Yet, the Philippine government via the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office gave a church based organization, AIDS-Free Philippines, 500,000 to 1.5 million pesos per year from the time of former President Estrada until 2009 to precisely promote this.

Which would have been bad in itself, promoting only the AB (Abstinence and Be Monogamous) without the C option (use Condom) for those who cannot do the AB is counter productive.  The catholic church has been trying to teach AB since before I was born and Filipinos are still begetting children before getting married and having sex outside of marriage.  So only promoting the first 2 options promotes the spread of HIV through ignorance.

But it's worse than that,  the AIDS-Free Philippines organization actively opposes the use of condoms, 

"In 2004, Dr. Rene Josef Bullecer, Director of AIDS-Free Philippines and Executive Director of Human Life International (HLI) Visayas-Mindanao, observed that:
“The discrepancy in the infection rates between the two countries, Thailand with severe condom- oriented programs and the Philippines without, has continued and only grown wider. As of August 2003 there were 899,000 HIV/AIDS cases documented in Thailand and approximately 125,000 deaths attributed to the disease. These numbers are many times those projected by the WHO (60,000-80,000 cases) in 1991. These numbers contrast sharply with those of the Philippines where, as of September 30, 2003, there were 1,946 AIDS cases resulting in 260 deaths. This is only a mere fraction of the number of cases (80,000-90,000) that the WHO projected would be reached by 2000.”31
The huge discrepancy continues, with Thailand having 610,000 [low estimate: 410 000; high estimate: 880,000] people living with HIV and death according to the UNAIDS/WHO. In contrast, the Philippines has only 8,300 [low: 6,000; high: 11,000] persons living with HIV. The numbers are even
more striking considering that the Philippines has a much larger population than Thailand.32
There is also more evidence from other countries that questions the effectiveness of condoms in the fight against HIV/AIDS. A study in Uganda by Kajubi et al. (2005) concluded that condoms were not effective at lowering HIV infections: “In this study, gains in condom use seem to have been offset by increases in the number of sex partners. Prevention interventions in generalized epidemics need to promote all aspects of sexual risk reduction to slow HIV transmission.”33
Dr Edward Green of the Harvard AIDS Prevention Research Project, in his book Rethinking AIDS Prevention: Learning from Successes in Developing Countries, contested the efficacy of condoms and HIV counseling and testing, the preferred prevention strategies of Western donor nations and the U.N.
Green said:
“The largely medical solutions funded by major donors have had little impact in Africa, the continent hardest hit by AIDS. Instead, relatively simple, low-cost behavioral change programs–stressing increased monogamy and delayed sexual activity for young people–have made the greatest headway in fighting or preventing the disease’s spread. Ugandans pioneered these simple, sustainable interventions and achieved significant results.”34
Tim Allen and Suzette Heald, in a comparison of AIDS policy in Uganda and Botswana, also noted:
“Promotion of condoms at an early stage proved to be counter-productive in Botswana, whereas the lack of condom promotion during the 1980s and early 1990s contributed to the relative
success of behaviour change strategies in Uganda.”35
Their opposition to condom use for the prevention of HIV infection boils down to, people do not use them correctly, therefore they are ineffective.  If used correctly, condoms provide up to 98% protection against HIV infection.  They argue that, behavioral change is more effective in preventing the spread of HIV,  we are not  disputing that, but correct and consistent use of condoms is also behavioral, what is the difference then? Then, there is the problem of what to do with people who are already infected with HIV,  are they barred from having sex the rest of their lives?  Condom use is the only way HIV infected people can have sex with their partners without overly worrying about infecting them.

So we have here an organization, that was funded by the Philippine government, supposedly dedicated to the prevention of HIV infection among Filipinos actually promoting the spread of HIV among Filipinos, now that is a waste of money.

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