The ABCs of Love

First, let’s acknowledge that not engaging in sex will prevent HIV/AIDS and pregnancy and that some limited evidence indicates promoting abstinence may work with some youth, though only for so long and only in some places.

Second, let’s acknowledge that if nicotine, alcohol and drug addicts who know the risks of their behavior cannot easily change, then it is unlikely people will stop having sex they know might kill them.

This pair of truisms converge in a report from southern Africa about how well the Bush Administration’s ABC policy of “abstinence, being faithful and condom use” is working. The Washington Post reports that Africans exposed to the message actually get it. They just don’t practice it, especially the B part.

As with any other attempt to change behavior, there is no single way. Every method that works ought to be tried, with the most resources going to the method that works best. In this case, the C part.

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