A new anti-AIDS strategy?

by on July 5, 2010 at 5:07 am in Economics, Education, Religion, Science | Permalink

Leading scientists fighting the world's worst Aids epidemic have called on African leaders to head a month-long sexual abstinence campaign, saying it would substantially reduce new infections.

Epidemiologists Alan Whiteside and Justin Parkhurst cite evidence that a newly infected person is most likely to transmit HIV in the month after being exposed to it. An abstinence campaign could cut new infections by up to 45%, they say – a huge step in countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Swaziland.

Unlike most abstinence campaigns, this one requires only a month of adherence [TC: does it break the chain or just postpone it?  It depends why transmission is so likely in the first month].  A month with condoms could have similar effects.  Will it happen?  The full article is here.

1 Andrew July 5, 2010 at 6:06 am

I propose a January air drop of calendars entitled “Hot Babes of U.S. Politics” featuring Hilary Clinton, Janet Reno and others.

2 Pete July 5, 2010 at 6:39 am

I feel the fingers of the US evangelical right on this. As you say, if they wanted the most effective thing they’d promote barrier contraception.

3 Gunnar Tveiten July 5, 2010 at 8:55 am

There’s also the problem of getting people to adhere. It’s not as if they’ve not tried to get people to use barrier-protection forever, and if everyone did, this would cut HIV-infections by a lot more than 45%, more like 95%.

Plus, abstinence does nothing, if you and your partner are both healthy. Put differently, if you’re married and in a stable long-term relationship with no side-partners (a fairly common arrangement), then having or not having sex for a period of one month, makes no difference whatsoever to anyone. Yes, some of the people who THINK they are married to a faithful partner are mistaken, but at any given time, that proportion also isn’t huge. (the risk that a partner will be unfaithful at SOME time, isn’t ignorable, but the risk that a partner is unfaithful exactly -this- month, is a lot lower)

Essentially a null suggestion. Boils down to “everyone who is having a new partner, should use a barrier” which is good advice — but nothing new at all.

4 Gabriel Rossman July 5, 2010 at 1:07 pm

another interpretation of why a month of abstinence instead of a month of condoms is what it implies about what happens after the fast period. it sounds a lot different to say “use a condom for a month (and then you can go bareback again)” than to say “be abstinent for a month (and then you can have sex again).” the latter is a better public health measure, especially to the extent that you’ll always want to promote condoms to high risk groups/acts.

5 DP Roberts July 5, 2010 at 4:33 pm

It takes 25 days, on average, for HIV antibodies to be detectable. I doubt that these people are being tested often enough, well enough, and are being truthful enough to estimate with any degree of accuracy that there is a one-month period of maximum transmissibility.

I remain skeptical of the results and the ensuing policy implications. This situation demands PERMANENT lifestyle changes, not merely timing changes to unhealthy practices.

6 Albert Farangh July 5, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Ramadan prevents AIDS…
There is the solution, right in the Guardian article.
Everybody should convert to Islam and submit to Shariah.
Come to think, this should also cure alcoholism and many other social vices.
So this is what their posters mean, when they say “Islam is the cure”.

7 koppni jaksen July 6, 2010 at 1:45 am

U.S. and Mexican officials on Monday announced the so-called “Merida Initiative,” which U.S

Cho Yung Tea Trial

8 Tim July 6, 2010 at 2:56 pm

What a great impossible solution! While on the subject, why not inject them with my free HIV vaccine? It hasn’t been invented yet, and likely won’t anytime soon, but it’s still more feasible than this solution.

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