Abstinence only for HIV prevention in rich countries: systematic review
If you tell young people not to have sex to avoid catching HIV, will they listen? David William Pitches examines a paper that tries to assess the evidence
It surely goes without saying that the only way to guarantee that you won't become infected with HIV through sexual intercourse is not to have sex, or to restrict sexual intercourse to someone who is also HIV negative and has no other risk factors such as injecting drugs.
Programmes that encourage young people to abstain from sex to prevent HIV infection are big business in some places, especially as the US president's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief funds such programmes in the United States and in some developing countries-this year's budget alone is more than $200m (£ 98m; € 141m) just for the US. Clearly it is important when allocating such vast sums to ensure they are well spent and that they are at least not causing harm and preferably doing some good.
Critics, however, complain that repeated studies of abstinence programmes show that they don't work and indeed may