Mr. Bush and Africa — The Real Story

Though the brunt of the editorial is meant to pressure President Bush to do more for developing countries, this morning’s Washington Post editorial begins with some undue praise for the Bush administration:

The Bush administration already has done a lot for developing countries. Its global AIDS initiative has transformed the money available to fight the pandemic….

The Bush administration’s global AIDS initiative certainly is doing something for countries … just not something good. Human Rights Watch provides searing insight into the effect that Bush-pushed “ABC” (Abstinence-Be Faithful-use Condoms) programs are having in Uganda, which was once the poster country for successful AIDS combatance:

U.S.-funded “abstinence-only” programs are jeopardizing Uganda’s successful fight against HIV/AIDS, Human Rights Watch said in a new report…. Abstinence-only programs deny young people information about any method of HIV prevention other than sexual abstinence until marriage.

The 80-page report, “The Less They Know, the Better: Abstinence-Only HIV/AIDS Programs in Uganda,” documents the recent removal of critical HIV/AIDS information from primary school curricula, including information about condoms, safer sex and the risks of HIV in marriage. Draft secondary-school materials state falsely that latex condoms have microscopic pores that can be permeated by HIV, and that pre-marital sex is a form of “deviance”; HIV/AIDS rallies sponsored by the U.S. government spread similar falsehoods.

“These abstinence-only programs leave Uganda’s children at risk of HIV,” said Jonathan Cohen, a researcher with Human Rights Watch’s HIV/AIDS Program and one of the report’s authors. “Abstinence messages should complement other HIV-prevention strategies, not undermine them.”