Taxpayer-funded AIDS subsidies are being used to subvert successful anti-AIDS programs in African countries like Uganda that succeed by instilling a politically-incorrect truth: fidelity saves lives. That’s what Sam Ruteikara, Chair of Uganda’s National AIDS Prevention Committee, explains today in the Washington Post, in an editorial, “Let My People Go, AIDS Profiteers.” He laments, “In the fight against AIDS, profiteering has trumped prevention. AIDS is no longer simply a disease; it has become a multibillion-dollar industry.”
Western governments (and charities subsidized by them) have spent billions on anti-AIDS programs in Africa and elsewhere. They spend the money largely on expensive treatments for those who already have AIDS, rather than on preventing the spread of AIDS, which can be done far more cheaply.
In poor African countries like Lesotho, “H.I.V.-infected children are offered exemplary treatment, while children suffering from much simpler-to-treat diseases are left untreated, sometimes to die,” notes an AIDS researcher quoted in a post at Reason entitled “Too Much Money for AIDS.”
And when they do try to prevent the spread of AIDS, they do it the most expensive and ineffective ways possible, like using expensive anti-retroviral drugs, and importing condoms that have little chance of consistently reaching remote villages.
In Uganda, anti-AIDS campaigners cut AIDS rates through the ABC program, telling the public to either be faithful, abstain from sex, or use condoms (in that order). The program worked. In practice, the focus was on fidelity, not abstinence or condoms. (Condoms are useful in the West, but they are just too expensive and unavailable for people in impoverished African countries. If your annual income is $200, and you can’t afford to pay $10 in school fees for your children, you certainly aren’t going to spend $30 a year on condoms).
Uganda’s “be faithful” message offends Western AIDS charity workers and foreign donors, who falsely claim that people can’t change their sexual behavior (just as social workers falsely insisted before welfare reform that people on welfare can’t change their ways). So they have used the carrot of subsidies to get Uganda to water down its “be-faithful” message, and AIDS rates have begun rising again. They have also made up a false statistic claiming that marital sex is more likely to transmit AIDS than sex with a prostitute.
So much foreign aid money is being spent on AIDS that countries like Botswana can’t handle it all. But diseases that wealthy Westerners don’t suffer from (and thus can’t relate to), like deadly forms of diarrhea, receive much less Western aid.
Meanwhile, AIDS rates in Zimbabwe are falling, even though that country’s economy and health care system are collapsing. That’s because the decline in its economy and reduction in foreign aid to that country has left men there too poor to afford having more than one partner at a time, thus reducing the spread of AIDS.