Abstinence Funding Was Not Associated With Reductions In HIV Risk Behavior In Sub-Saharan Africa
Author: Nathan C. Lo, Anita Lowe, Eran Bendavid
The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has been the largest funder of abstinence and faithfulness programming in sub-Saharan Africa, with a cumulative investment of over US $1.4 billion in the period 2004–13. We examined whether PEPFAR funding for abstinence and faithfulness programs, which aimed to reduce the risk of HIV transmission, was associated with a relative change in five outcomes indicative of high-risk sexual behavior: number of sexual partners in the past twelve months for men and for women, age at first sexual intercourse for men and for women, and teenage pregnancies. Using nationally representative surveys from twenty-two sub-Saharan African countries, we compared trends between people living in countries that received PEPFAR abstinence and faithfulness funding and those living in countries that did not in the period 1998–2013. We found no evidence to suggest that PEPFAR funding was associated with population-level reductions in any of the five outcomes. These results suggest that alternative funding priorities for HIV prevention may yield greater health benefits.