Take the Only out of Abstinence-Only
Stop the Export of U.S.-Funded Abstinence-Only HIV/AIDS Programs
Support Ugandan AIDS Activists: AIDS activists in Uganda are protesting the country's deepening condom shortage and expansion of US-funded abstinence-until marriage programs. In September 2005, activists delivered a sign-on letter to the Ministry of Health stating that "Over the past year, access to condoms in Uganda has been reduced dramatically" and condemning "the diversion of valuable HIV/AIDS funds away from programs that provide a full range of HIV-prevention options and toward those that focus exclusively on abstinence and fidelity for HIV-prevention." The letter followed ten months of a worsening condom crisis, sparked by the recall of free Engabu-brand condoms in October 2004. Human Rights Watch issued a comprehensive report on anti-condom "abstinence-until-marriage" programs in Uganda in March 2005. For additional information about the Uganda condom crisis and what you can do, visit the websites of the Center for Health and Gender Equity and Advocates for Youth.
Write your senator and member of Congress: Tell them you are against HIV-prevention programs that censor accurate information about how young people can protect themselves. Recommend that the U.S. Congress pass legislation suspending all funding for unproven abstinence-only programs, and redirecting this funding towards programs that provide complete HIV-prevention information to young people. Send them a copy of Human Rights Watch’s reports on abstinence-only programs in the United States and Uganda. (Sample Letter | Legislator Lookup)
‘Abstinence-only’ programs teach that abstaining from sex until marriage is the only effective way to prevent contracting HIV through sex. They deny young people critical information about condoms and other safer sex strategies, and promote marriage as a safeguard against HIV infection. These programs do not work, they violate kids’ right to complete information about HIV/AIDS and leave young people at risk of contracting HIV in marriage, particularly women and girls. But the U.S. government is exporting them all over the world as part of President Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
Write President Bush and Ambassador Randall Tobias: Ambassador Tobias is the U.S. global AIDS coordinator and is in charge of overseeing a multi-million-dollar budget for international HIV/AIDS programs. Tell him and President Bush that you are against HIV-prevention programs that censor accurate information about how young people can protect themselves. Request that they recommend to Congress that legislation be passed suspending funding for unproven abstinence-only programs and redirecting this funding to programs that respect young people’s right to complete HIV/AIDS information.
Alert your community: Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper saying you heard about U.S. funding for abstinence-only programs, and that you oppose this abuse of taxpayers’ money. Organize an event at your school or in your community with experts on HIV/AIDS, human and children’s rights and sexual health.
Learn More: Read Human Rights Watch’s reports about U.S.-funded abstinence-only programs in the United States and Uganda. Visit the Web sites of Human Rights Watch and other organizations fighting abstinence-only, such as the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, Advocates for Youth, the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the Center for Health and Gender Equity, Population Action International, and the American Civil Liberties Union. Read the report of U.S. Representative Henry Waxman about the failures of abstinence-only programs in the United States.
Join Human Rights Watch: Help us pressure the United
States and other governments to stop funding abstinence-only programs and
to replace them
with programs that provide kids with complete HIV/AIDS information. Join
Get InformedFacts at a Glance
Testimonies from Uganda
Full Report: The Less They Know, the BetterAbstinence-Only HIV/AIDS Programs in Uganda
The U.S. Example
More on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights
Get InvolvedWhat You Can Do
Write to Your Legislator
Write to President Bush and Ambassador Tobias
In ImagesPages from Ugandan Textbooks
AudioHuman Rights Watch Researcher Tony Tate on U.S.-Funded, Abstinence-Only, HIV/AIDS Programs in Uganda