At the 2013 IEEF Conference in Paris, October 2013, a young married couple from Kenya, gave an account of the success of the ABC Programe, which promotes abstinence and fidelity to one partner, in combatting AIDS in East Africa. This program was devised by two religious sisters in Uganda, Dr Miriam Duggan, a Franciscan sister and Sr Lawlor, from the Medical Missionaries of Mary (MMM) and is based on the helping skills model of Gerard Egan which is a behavioural and problem-solving approach. This Education for Life Programme involves young people talking to other young people about AIDS, their own Culture, their own belisfs, their choices etc.
Abstinence and fidelity to one partner is advised if the person wants to avoid contracting AIDS. The use of a condom reduces the risk of contracting AIDS, but its use does not avoid the possibility of contracting AIDS.
The implementation of this Programe in Uganda itself has seen a drop in the prevalence of AIDS from a peak of 28% to 6% today. This success rate in combatting AIDS is also seen in other countries in East Africa.
In a recent article in “The Curate’s Diary”, Dr Duggan herself has stated that the implementation of this programme in Uganda has resulted in a reduction in the number of teenagers who are sexually active. In 1994, 60% of Uganda’s 13-16 year olds were sexually active. By 2001, that had been reduced to 5%, showing that, with the right approach, young people will repond.
Further information on the ABC Programme:
- If you google ‘Gerard Egan, Education for Life’, a number of websites are listed in which you will find an account of how the Education for Life Programme is organised. For example, an account on the Methodology of the Education for Life Programme is given by Sr Bernadette Duffy, P.O. 941, Pretoria 0001 in the website of the Catholic Diocese of Port Elizabeth and the website ‘Youth Alive’ also gives an outline of the Programme.
- The book “Affirming Love, Avoiding AIDS, What Africa can Teach the West” by Matthew Hanley and Jokin de Irala MD, (ISBN: 978-0-935372-56-4), reviews the epidemiological evidence of the success of this Program in reducing the incidence of AIDS. It is published by The National Catholic Bioethics Center, 6399 Drexel Road, Philadelphia, PA 19151, USA. www.ncbcenter.org