There is empirical evidence to suggest that reliance on condoms is not the most effective anti-AIDS strategy. Research by Edward C. Green of Harvard University shows that programs emphasizing abstinence and marital fidelity have brought down infection rates more successfully than those which rely primarily on condoms. Green says that’s for three reasons: people often don’t use condoms correctly; they stop using them when they believe they know the other person; and condoms generate a false sense of security.
Bishops in Africa will tell you, that the condoms which reach Africa are often expired and defective, and in any event, that a young African male often regards a condom as a kind of talisman that renders him immune to harm, thereby inducing him into even riskier behaviors.
The same belief is held by a wide cross-section of other religious leaders in Africa. John Allen interviewed the Imam of the National Mosque in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, who agrees that Condoms are making HIV/AIDS worse in Africa.
Many secular AIDS experts in Africa, unaffiliated with the church, also hold the same view. Vanessa Balla, a physician in Cameroon who treats AIDS patients, said 'With condoms, people think they can do whatever they want. I’ve seen it myself … they take as much risk as possible." Insisting that “it’s incredibly hard to watch young people dying of AIDS,” Ballas said the solution is “not condoms, but changing behavior.”
Compare the African nations of Botswana and Uganda. Botswana promoted condom use from the beginning. Uganda, encouraged abstinence.
In Botswana, Cameroon, and Kenya - they saw AIDS prevalence rise alongside condom distribution until they both leveled out. In Botswana today, where condoms are available nearly everywhere, one in six people is HIV positive or living with AIDS.
In Uganda, where abstinence is strongly promoted, the prevalence of AIDS has dropped and now affects less than six percent of the population. Quote BBC News who stated that Uganda has done extremely well in fighting AIDS because, in many parts of the country, its prevalence ‘‘was at least three times higher in the early 90s.’’
Similar comparison, made between Thailand and the Philippines, where AIDS broke out at the same time. Thailand’s approach promoted the distribution of condoms while the Philippines promoted abstinence. Twenty years after the outbreak, the prevalence of AIDS in Thailand is 50 times higher than in the Philippines.
Despite the claims on condom packaging, which assert a 99% effectiveness, the NIH found that condoms are only 85% effective in preventing the transmission of AIDS and about 50% effective at blocking other STDs.
The calculus of condoms is very simple,You decrease the risk a little, increase the risk takers a whole lot, and pretty soon you get what they have in Botswana where one in six people has AIDS. Or you get what you have in America, where aggressively promoting condoms, yet every year, nine million young people under the age of 25 are getting an STD.