this is a subject near and dear to my heart.
when i was still in jersey i was a member of my denomination's AIDS task force. several years ago we began a campaign to raise money for specific ministries in africa that dealt with AIDS.
women in africa are most prone to this disease. here's the story for most of them.
a husband travels to where there is work often only coming home twice a year at christmas and easter. while away these men make use of prostitutes, many of whom are infected with HIV. because AIDS is still such a taboo subject most people won't admit to being sick until it is too late and they are dying. the husbands go home usually when they can no longer work. wives get infected either through sex with their husbands on one of their biannual visits or from taking care of them before they die.
most of african culture is still patriarchal. so when the funeral takes place the husband's family (not his wife and children) lay claim to all of the husband's possessions.
a friend once told me that in africa the joke is you sit down next to the lamp you want.
after a husband's funeral the wife and children are left with an empty house. most don't even have blankets to sleep on afterwards.
to feed her children most widows turn to prostitution. if they insist on using a condom they might make enough money to feed their family for a day. if they don't they might make enough to care for their families for a week and in the process pass along the disease to another husband who gives it to his wife and so begins the cycle.
abstinence is a nice theory, but the fact of the matter is that most of the time, in africa, condom usage is most important for married couples... not unmarried.
to only give aid money to religious groups that promote a no sex policy is maddening!
during the campaign to raise money for AIDS in africa i learned other facts. one american dollar has the buying power of about 30 dollars in africa. it costs about $60 to send an african child to school for a year.
giving financial aid to africa is worthwhile, but we must be careful how we choose where to give that money. choosing groups that promote "no sex" policies isn't enough of a standard. this government needs to give the cash to ministries (and i use that word not in purely religious terms) that actually work.
but once again we are failing people who are poor and black and that is reprehensible and in no way religious.