Abstinence Fuels Huge HIV Drop, Study ShowsWell whaddya know? Reduce the number of sexual partners, and you reduce the prevalence of HIV. And wonder of wonders - no mention of condoms as having had any impact whatsoever! Me thinks the heterophobes will condemn this study as being anti-gay.
A new Harvard study from Zimbabwe has shown that a 50% drop in HIV prevalence was driven primarily by changes in sexual behavior, particularly a drop in casual, commercial, and extramarital sex.
“In Zimbabwe, as elsewhere, partner reduction appears to have played a crucial role in reversing the HIV epidemic,” wrote Daniel Halperin, PhD, of the Harvard School of Public Health, and colleagues, Lifesite News reports.
The study, published this month at PLoSMedicine.org, was commissioned by the UNFPA and UNAIDS.
The researchers found that the change in behaviour was motivated by fear of the infection, stemming from the country’s high rate of AIDS mortality. They say it was amplified by economic decline because men had less money to pay for sex or to maintain multiple sexual relationships.
The researchers suggest that Zimbabwe has been more successful than other African countries in fighting AIDS because it has high levels of marriage and secondary education.
"High levels of marriage", eh? Fidelity really does work! Who knew?
And "high levels of secondary education"? Apparently students are not being taught how to slip a condom onto a banana in Zimbabwe secondary schools, because that happens here in the states, and 'comprehensive sex education' like that has actually led to an increase in sexual activity. I mean come on - a banana? Kids want to put their knowledge to the test in the field. The news report doesn't go into any detail as to how higher education rates played a role in reducing the prevalence of HIV, so it's unclear as to the extent of its impact - but if it's a factor, then common sense tells me the education system in Zimbabwe does things better than the US public schools. Which isn't saying much, when you come right down to it.
Bottom line - Church teaching on sex, meant to be exclusively between a husband and wife, works. It's been God's plan since the beginning, and when executed properly, good things happen - like stable marriages, children and reduced rates of HIV. Granted, the people in Zimbabwe aren't explicitly following the teachings of the Church - the nation is roughly 7% Catholic - and their motivations are imperfect. Fear works, but it's neither permanent nor positive - and poverty is a cruel master. If and when the economy improves, men who are predisposed to frequent prostitutes or juggle women may fall back to familiar behaviors when they find themselves with more cash. Old habits die hard, and old bad habits rarely do.
Thus, another teachable moment has arrived for the Church in Zimbabwe. I hope the Church stands in the gap here, focusing on the spiritual component of this situation, so that hearts may be changed by the saving power of the Holy Spirit. The bishops and priests have a great opportunity to highlight the positive, life-affirming aspects of Church teaching, using this study as solid evidence to support why sexual purity is a good and wondrous thing.
So what if it took Captain Obvious and his bevvy of brainiacs at Harvard to point this stuff out? Just goes to show that the Church was right all along....again.
Update - this post was mentioned on Gloria.TV. Thanks guys!