Two prominent scientists at the Harvard Center on Population and Development have released a controversial study on how countries like Botswana have been led to using ineffective HIV\AIDS prevention strategies by international companies that are making huge profits from the AIDS industry.
Dr. Edward Green, who has served as team leader on numerous USAID project designs and evaluations, and Dr. Halpern, a former Technical Adviser for Prevention/Behaviour Change, USAID Southern Africa Regional HIV/AIDS Program, argue that under President Bush’s global AIDS initiative, the US will spend $15 billion, partially on prevention. It would be politically naive to expect that those who profit from the lucrative AIDS-prevention industry would not be inclined to protect their interests.
The two Harvard scientists have noted that, while abstinence programs in countries like Uganda have proven their effectiveness, AIDS policymakers in countries like Botswana continue to promote condom use, and ignore the differences in AIDS rates among African nations.
They further point out that countries like Botswana have invested more in “condomising” than encouraging behavioral change because: “Those who work in condom promotion and STD treatment, as well as the industries that supply these devices and drugs, do not want to lose market share, so to speak, to those few who have begun to talk about behavior. Put crudely, who makes a buck if Africans simply start being monogamous?”
In an article for the journal, The Responsive Community, Dr Green points out the failure of the condom-pushing approach of UNAIDS. “How has the Western risk-reduction model fared in Africa? There is no evidence that mass promotion of condoms has paid off with a decline of HIV infection rates at the population level in Africa, according to a new UNAIDS assessment of condom effectiveness. In fact, countries with the highest levels of condom availability (Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Kenya) also have some of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world,” he writes.
They are supported by Dr. James Chin who has recently published a book detailing his struggles with the UNAIDS establishment. Titled “The AIDS Pandemic: The Collision of Epidemiology with Political Correctness”, the book’s thesis is that “the story of HIV has been distorted by UNAIDS and AIDS activists in order to support the myth of the high potential risk of HIV epidemics spreading into the general population” according to the publisher.
A separate study has revealed that close to 50 percent of Batswana who could afford three meals a day before they were infected with HIV\AIDS can now barely afford meals. The study commissioned by the Food, Agriculture and Natural resources policy Analysis Network that examined the impact of HIV/AIDS in Botswana among other countries found that in Botswana, 81 percent of respondents had three or more meals daily before becoming HIV-positive, compared with 49 percent who had three or more meals daily after contracting the virus. In addition, about two-people years of labour are lost by the time one person dies of AIDS-related causes because of illness and time spent providing care. “Silent Hunger”, a book based on the study, states that HIV-associated hunger typically affects “productive,” or adult, family members first, whereas traditional drought-related famines often affect dependent family members ÔÇö such as children and the elderly. In addition, the book says that because of social and cultural traditions, women often “bear the brunt of the epidemic” by caring for people living with HIV/AIDS and by being at higher risk of HIV transmission.
The main sources of income for many families in the region affected by HIV/AIDS include government food parcels, pension grants, orphan and foster care grants, and child grants because many families are unable to make an income through farming.