Evangelicals have become front-line leaders in AIDS prevention around the world in recent years, but there is growing division over how to prevent the disease without compromising their beliefs.
Evangelicals, with the support of the Bush administration, have increasingly stepped into the AIDS battle, often following the “ABC” approach modeled in Uganda [see March 2003 RW]. The plan, stressing abstinence, being faithful (monogamy), and condoms, had drastically lowered the AIDS infection rate in Uganda to the surprise of many health and relief organizations that stressed the importance of condoms.
Like the Ugandan plan championed by President Yoweri Museveni, evangelicals have stressed abstinence and monogamy, giving little place for condom use in prevention, writes sociologist Chris Hickey in the evangelical Brandywine Review of Faith and International Affairs (Fall). Hickey writes that evangelical relief and development workers and leaders are seeking to replicate the Uganda model worldwide.
But “in private, some evangelicals who have seen the ugly face of HIV/AIDS are rethinking strategies to create a vital place for contraception in the fight against this global killer.” He adds that such a strategy may have more success in a country such as Thailand, where “religious mores are not so strictly tied to ascetic lifestyle choices, and where a government-promoted condom campaign cut AIDS infections dramatically in the 1990s.
(Brandywine Review of Faith & International Affairs, P.O. Box 14477, Washington, DC 20044; http://www.globalengage.org)