Monday, April 18, 2011

The Rubber Revolution?

Last November, the DC Department of Health (DOH) launched the Rubber Revolution websiteAccording to the site:

We want condoms in the hands of the men and women of DC to use for responsible and good sex.

Really?  If condom distribution is working so well in DC, why have rates of HIV infection and sexually transmitted disease infection been increasing?  Certainly not because there have not been enough condoms distributed.

Condom distribution in the District increased from 600,0000 in 2007 to 3.2 million in 2009.  Yet at the same time, the rate of HIV infection increased by 9.2 per cent.  So it appears that there is a correlation between more condoms being distributed and higher HIV infection rates.  Ed Green found the same effect in his research in Africa; using condoms seems to give a false sense of security.  Countries with the highest rate of condom use also have the highest rates of HIV infection.  Botswana, Zimbabwe, and South Africa have the highest rate of condom distribution, and also the highest rate of HIV infection (20 percent to 35 percent among males ages 15 to 49)

Although 42 percent of DC high school students report never having had sex, and 69 percent have not had sex within the previous three months, the District does not spend any money to increase the number of youth who are abstaining from sex.

The vision of ULTRA Teen Choice is that

Every DC youth from upper elementary through high school will receive education about the benefits of abstinence, and will have the opportunity to hear from peers who believe in abstinence.
Accountability relationships, in person or through others means, will be set up between older youth or adults of the same sex who believe in abstinence:
Middle school youth will be STAR (Students Teaching Abstinence & Responsibility) Guides for upper elementary.
High school youth will be STAR Guides for Middle School.
College Youth will be STAR Guides for High School.
This will greatly reduce the rate of HIV, STDs, out of wedlock births, and heartbreak.

A condom-centric approach to stopping HIV and STD infection in DC has been a dismal failure.  It is time to form a youth HIV Prevention Corps that leverages the immense resource of youth who are abstinent or who have returned to abstinence.  Why are we wasting more of taxpayers hard earned money funding programs that continue to promote the same old failed methods?