Africa's young 'change sex habits and lower HIV rates'

From a just released UN report

The Outlook report says young people in 16 of the world’s 25 worst-affected countries with HIV are becoming sexually active later and having fewer sexual partners.

In countries such as Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and Zimbabwe the reduction in new HIV infections, measured among young pregnant women presenting for antenatal check-ups, indicates that these nations will achieve UN targets for reducing HIV rates among the young this year.

Case study: Kenya

* 60% decline in HIV prevalence between 2000 and 2005
* Urban areas: HIV prevalence dropped from 14.2% to 5.4%
* Rural areas: HIV prevalence dropped from from 9.2% to 3.6%

Good. Fornication is being reduced. Next needs to adultery. Sometimes when spouses get separated, cheating occurs and then both partners (and any children they have after that point) have HIV. This was the case with a woman who spoke to my university a few years ago.

Its the kind of behavior change which is necessary to reduce transmission of sexually transmitted disease. I think there was some reluctance, initially, among HIV aid organizations operating in Africa about pushing such a change. This reluctance may have been partly out of fear of cultural imperialism, and partly a personal belief that discouraging promiscuity was old-fashioned and prudish.

I’m very glad that has changed.

The reasons why promiscuity was/is so high in Africa is more for practical reasons than cultural ones. In many places in Africa, men will have sex with more than one woman for the purpose of producing as many children as possible because the child mortality rate is so high. It’s a way to ensure the continuity of your family line. I also watched an interesting doccumentary some time ago which showed African woman stuffing their clothes with padding, pillows, and fabrics before meeting men to make themselves appear fatter and thus healthier and capable of enduring multiple pregnancies and childbearing. It will be interesting to see what happens to the population as a result of this behavioral change.

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