Is anti-HIV ‘no-sex month’ a joke?

2010-08-07 00:00

THE idea that abstaining from sex for one month could drastically curb the HIV infection rate has sent Aids activists into stitches.

“People and sex? How do you begin to tell people not to have sex for a month?” asked KwaZulu-Natal Treatment Action Campaign spokesperson Ntombizonke Ndlovu.

The Times reported recently on an “innovative response” devised by Professor Alan Whiteside and Justin Parkhurst. In a paper in the Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine, the two academics suggested the “one month abstinence”.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Aids research division academics reportedly said they are not saying people must fast from sex forever.

“But surely, just for a month, give up sex or just use a condom. Is that asking too much? I don’t think so,” Whiteside is quoted as saying.

The report said that soon after infection with HIV, a person’s “viral load” increases, making them highly infectious for a couple of months, so a one month sex fast could have a big effect.

Professor Whiteside reportedly said the idea is “mind-bogglingly simple”, but Ndlovu wonders how it would be achieved.

“You can’t make people stop having sex.

“Let’s say you achieve having them clean for a month, and what’s gonna happen the next month? It’s back to their old ways and what is achieved by the one month?

“Abstinence has been preached for a long time and it’s just not practical. What we ask from people is the consistent use of condoms for their own sake.

“Condoms have been proven to be working so we encourage people not to stop using them.

“This ‘one month’ idea or theory is just not achievable,” said Ndlovu.

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