Aids experts call for month of sex abstinence

The Guardian:

Aids experts call for month of sex abstinence

Leading experts fighting the world’s worst Aids epidemic have called on African leaders to head a month-long sexual abstinence campaign, saying it could reduce new infections.Researchers Alan Whiteside and Justin Parkhurst cite scientific evidence that due to ‘‘viral-load spikes’’, a newly infected person is most likely to transmit HIV in the month after they were exposed to it. Up to 45pc of HIV transmissions result from sex during the highly infectious ‘‘spikes’’ period.

Whiteside’s research with Parkhurst, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, focused on religious groups, such as Muslims who abstain from sex during Ramadan, and Zimbabwe’s Marange Apostolic sect, which bans sex during Passover.
According to UNAids, predominantly Muslim countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia have an HIV prevalence rate of 0.2%. The low rate has previously been attributed to the universal practice of male circumcision. But Whiteside argues that practising Muslim men are also protected from HIV by the ban on sex during the daylight hours of Ramadan, as well as strict teachings on alcohol use, homosexuality and extra-marital sex.

Gee, ya mean all that morality stuff is actually good for you?

One of the researchers says they are not advocating a month of refraining from sex.

Some have interpreted this to mean Whiteside and Parkhurst are calling for a month of abstinence only.

“I would say they haven’t read the article properly,” he says, adding, “What we believe would work is that if every act of sexual intercourse [were] protected, then there would be no HIV transmission during the period of a month. And that means people who have just been infected, who have a very high viral (HIV) load, would not be transmitting during that high period of viral load.”

“If everybody – married or in a relationship – uses a condom, then you would have the same effect of interrupting HIV transmission. It’s like if you took everybody who had a cold and put them in quarantine for a month. We’re not suggesting for a moment that that’s what you do. But we are suggesting you quarantine against HIV transmission,” he says.

I dunno… certainly the proposal is “thinking outside of the box” as Whiteside phrased it. It seems highly speculative, and based simply upon correlation. Many other factors could explain lower incidence of HIV in the two groups mentioned, other than a weeks long break in sexual activity. I would like to learn more about what they say, but am having trouble.

Here is the abstract for their article:

It has a link to the PDF of the entire article, but all I get is a blank page when I click on the link. I’m not sure whether the problem is on my end or theirs. :frowning:

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