The African Cliff

Even though I know about AIDS in Africa this figure shocked me.

What I don’t understand is why the discussion of solutions focuses so heavily on AIDS drugs when condoms are cheaper and more effective in preventing spread of the disease.  And why isn’t condom use in Africa skyrocketing?  (A notable exception is Uganda where AIDS rates have begun to level off due to condom use– see graph).  Condoms are cheap – even if not to every African they can be easily subsidized by donor groups or governments but there is still a large condom-gap in Africa.

Note that in theory condom use could increase transmission of AIDS if it increases sex.  Evidence from the US and elsewhere indicates this is unlikely in practice.  Moreoever, it doesn’t explain why more condoms are not being used.

Figure from the Economic Report of the President (2005) via Ben Muse.