“The Bush administration’s $1 billion experiment in using abstinence messages as the basis of HIV prevention has born its first fruit: In a public speech on May 18, Uganda’s AIDS Commissioner Kihumuro Apuuli announced that HIV infections have almost doubled in Uganda over the past two years, from 70,000 in 2003 to 130,000 in 2005. And despite this chilling wake-up call, Bush has empowered Christian right activists to continue to push their abstinence-only agenda at a UN Special Session on HIV/AIDS, to begin next week. According to a State Department email I obtained, the official U.S. delegation is stacked with some of the very people who contributed to the debacle in Uganda.”
What this debacle entailed Esther Kaplan goes on to make quite clear.
“Uganda was once an HIV prevention success story, where an ambitious government-sponsored prevention campaign, including massive condom distribution and messages about delaying sex and reducing numbers of partners, pushed HIV rates down from 15 percent in the early 1990s to 5 percent in 2001. But conservative evangelicals rewrote this history–with the full-throated cooperation of Uganda’s evangelical first family, the Musevenis. “
And so —
As one Family Research Council paper put it:
“Both abstinence and monogamy helped to curb the spread of AIDS in Uganda…How did this happen? Shortly after he came into office in 1986, President Museveni of Uganda spearheaded a mass education campaign promoting a three-pronged AIDS prevention message: abstinence from sexual activity until marriage; monogamy within marriage; and condoms as a last resort. The message became commonly known as ABC: Abstain, Be faithful, and use Condoms if A and B fail.”
Needless to say, the Usual Suspects were involved: James Dobson, Franklin Graham, and one Anita Smith who —
“has long been a close ally of Tom Coburn, the Oklahoma senator James Dobson helped get elected who is so fanatically pro-abstinence that he has pushed for warning labels on condoms and once demanded the ouster of the head of the Centers for Disease Control for promoting condom use. Coburn’s legislative director, Roland Foster, used to regularly send out Children’s AIDS Fund emails trashing HIV prevention organizations for being too sexually explicit and calling for them to be investigated and defunded. (Many were.) Once Coburn, a former Congressman, was elected to the Senate in 2004, President Bush picked Smith to replace Coburn as the head of his Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. Now, according to the State Department email printed below, she’s an official U.S. delegate to next week’s UN Special Session on AIDS.
Another official U.S. delegate, Melissa Pardue, now a White House functionary, until recently used her perch as a Heritage Foundation policy analyst to supply the Christian right with their talking points on abstinence-only education, forwarding the false claims that multiple scientific studies show that abstinence-only education works (in fact the most persuasive data shows that people who pledge abstinence are at greater risk for getting sexually transmitted diseases) and that the federal government spends far more on comprehensive sex ed (the feds spend almost zero on the latter, but Pardue tiptoes around that by counting all the funds that go to family planning clinics to provide medical care).
Together Smith and Pardue have been key players in injecting abstinence-only ideology into the Washington echo chamber. “
That echo chamber also includes the “Mainstream” media where on the pages of Pravda we find Sebastian Malleby gushing —
“The Bush administration’s critics should give credit where it’s due. And when it comes to the global AIDS crisis, it is due — big-time.
Five years ago, the U.S. government’s total contribution to fighting HIV-AIDS abroad stood at $840 million. The Bush team was rightly pilloried for trade policies that impeded poor countries’ efforts to buy cheap generic AIDS drugs. But at the start of 2003, the administration had a hallelujah moment. In that year’s State of the Union address, President Bush promised $15 billion over five years to fight the pandemic. It was the biggest commitment to a global health challenge announced by any government, ever.”
Are Malleby and his editors stupid? Of course not. Neither are they “ill-informed.” They know precisely what they’re doing, as is obvious from what follows.
“Naturally, there were skeptics. The administration’s envoys endured boos and yells at international AIDS conferences; they will probably face more at this week’s United Nations AIDS summit. But three years after Bush’s $15 billion pledge, the skepticism has proved mostly unfounded.”
Just love that “mostly,” don’t you? And here comes its Evil Twin–“relatively.”
“A third doubt about the administration’s AIDS promise concerned sexual abstinence. When it agreed to back Bush’s AIDS initiative, Congress laid down that a third of the prevention budget should be used to advocate abstinence and faithfulness. The scientific literature suggests that combining abstinence messages with teaching about condoms can delay sexual debut and save lives but that abstinence-only messages are ineffective. So the congressional earmark, to which the administration acquiesced, seemed like a classic Republican mistake: a triumph of social-conservative ideology over science.
This complaint is right — but should not be exaggerated. Most of the U.S. AIDS budget goes toward treating people and caring for the dying and orphans. Abstinence and faithfulness teaching consumes only 7 percent of the total, and an unknown fraction of that is constructively combined with teaching about condoms. The critics cite a few wacko preachers who have received U.S. money even though they proclaim that condoms don’t work, and the Government Accountability Office has described how the abstinence earmark complicates the work of front-line AIDS groups. But it’s wrong to paint the entire Bush AIDS program as a Christian-conservative plot when the abstinence-only stuff is relatively limited.”
And we can see the fruits of this relativism in Uganda.
But BushCo shills like Malleby don’t give a damn about Uganda — oranywhere else. All they care about is keeping the BushCo. image well-polished. And if human lives can be utilized as polish ingredients, so much the better.
No, they’re not stupid — just Evil.
And withall banal in ways that Hannah Arendt could never have imagined.