PEPFAR push for abstinence in Africa is seen as failure against HIV

The $1.3 billion that the United States government has spent since 2005 encouraging Africans to avoid AIDS by practicing abstinence and fidelity did not measurably change sexual behavior and was largely wasted, according to a study presented on the last day of an AIDS conference here.

President George W. Bush’s global AIDS plan was enacted in 2003 and marshaled billions of dollars to treat Africans who had AIDS with lifesaving drugs. Conservative Republican leaders in the House of Representatives successfully included a provision that one-third of AIDS prevention money go to programs to encourage abstinence and fidelity. That campaign — known as ABC, for abstain, be faithful and use condoms — was part of the bargain made when Christian conservatives joined with liberals to pass the law.

After the presentation, a woman identifying herself as a director of PEPFAR's efforts in an unidentified country said the program — which is led by Dr. Deborah Birx — had just cut the $47 million it still spends on abstinence and fidelity to $21 million. Beyond that, she said, she would have to wait until people at headquarters could read the study. Read More