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The U.N. Removed Abstinence Language From Its Plan to End AIDS

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution yesterday pledging to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic worldwide by 2030. Besides the ambitious timeline, the resolution’s most notable element may have been an absence — of the words “abstinence” and “fidelity.” Both terms appeared in the General Assembly’s last HIV/AIDS resolution in 2011.

Even though research has indicated since the mid-2000s that abstinence education doesn’t work, the United States invested more than $1.4 billion by 2013 into abstinence and stay-faithful programs across Sub-Saharan Africa as part of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Pacific Standard reported on a review of those programs in May:

“We were not able to detect any unique changes in these behaviors associated with the funding,” says study author Nathan Lo, a graduate student at Stanford University’s School of Medicine. In addition, until his team tackled the question, Lo says no one had investigated the effectiveness of the controversial [abstinence and faithfulness] announcements, which the U.S. has been funding since 2004.

According to the U.N.’s latest data, the number of new HIV infections worldwide has fallen 6 percent since 2010.