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Today's Washington Post highlights several AIDS prevention programs in Africa which are using the ABC approach without much success. Programs in both Botswana and Kenya failed to change participants' behavior while another program in Nigeria increased condom use but not fidelity or abstinence rates. The lack of results would make you think that funders would be hesitant to expand ABC programs, wouldn't it? Unfortunately, the opposite may be true. The same Washington Post article reveals that the CDC has begun funding a project to insert abstinence-only messages into the educational curriculum in Kenya, citing a study from Philadelphia that showed increased abstinence rates among participating youth.

I don't know enough about the study from Philadelphia to comment on its findings but I find it hard to believe that its results were significant enough to discount a study conducted in Kenya showing that ABC programs were not well-understood by Kenyan youth. The U.S. has talked a lot about incorporating performance-based funding into its AIDS initiatives but such rhetoric is incompatible with expanding programs whose efficacy is still questionable, such as these ABC programs. To that end, it will be interesting to see what findings are produced by a planned study from CGD’s HIV/AIDS Monitor into the performance-based funding rules of PEPFAR, the Global Fund and the World Bank's MAP program. I hope the expansion of unproven ABC programs in Kenya is the exception and not the rule.

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.