USAID Family Planning Undercuts Efforts to Curb Promiscuity

Steven Mosher
PRI Weekly Briefing
23 April 2004
Vol. 6 / No. 16
Reproduced with Permission

USAID's Bureau for Global Health, in conjunction with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has produced a peer-reviewed policy report which claims that there would be no AIDS pandemic were it not for multiple sexual partnerships.(1) In other words, according to USAID, the essential cause of the AIDS pandemic in Africa is that poor men and women of color are promiscuous unto death.

This is a Big Fat Myth.

Promiscuity does play into the spread of HIV. But the particular way that USAID frames the issue of promiscuity, as the alleged primary cause of HIV, downplays one of its leading causes -- medical transmission of HIV in USAID-funded family planning clinics. It also reveals an agenda to mute criticism of failed programs, and an agenda to carry on the ideological goals of the international family planning community.

Medical experts have debunked the myth that promiscuity is the primary cause of HIV transmission.(2) What the ideologues at USAID deny is medical transmission is a leading cause of HIV, often in the form of injectable contraception. They also deny that USAID flagrantly promotes promiscuity with its family planning policy, while claiming to be against it in its HIV policy.

For the population controllers at USAID, the myth that Africans are promiscuous unto death dovetails nicely with efforts to lower the fertility of African women, since USAID's AIDS relief programs have been merged into population control programs. The sad truth is, USAID's family planning programs in Africa have caused AIDS. The integration of AIDS relief and family planning is a recipe for further disaster.

The USAID report is designed to generate a new policy for AIDS relief, a policy which deflects the more proximate causes of HIV transmission. This new policy is pitched as a "balanced, evidence based ABC approach" for AIDS prevention; in other words, a policy which promotes condoms (C), along with abstinence (A), and being faithful (B). Therefore, the policy is weighted in favor of groups that promote condoms, population control and the full arsenal of USAID reproductive health supplies, including abortion. The policy is weighted against genuine faith-based groups that refuse to push condoms.

Many genuine faith-based groups who wish to receive USAID funds to promote abstinence-only AIDS prevention in Africa and the Caribbean, pursuant to the five-year $15 billion President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), have complained they have been forced out of the grant application process, or that the process is heavily biased against them. The evidence speaks for itself. Favored population control groups that promote injectable contraception, such as Family Health International, have received hundreds of millions for more population control under the guise of AIDS prevention. Truly faith-based groups have received a mere pittance by comparison.(3)

Finally, the report ignores the fact that USAID's AIDS programs in Africa involve "over-the-counter" (OTC) provisions of injectable Depo Provera, and other injectible contraceptives. OTC Depo in developing nations enables sexual promiscuity, and maims women.

OTC Depo-Provera is not FDA approved. However, USAID is able to promote this dangerous method of population control by following lower medical standards.

"For non-FDA approved products," USAID guidelines for international pharmaceuticals asserts, "the WHO Certification Scheme on the Quality of Pharmaceutical Products Moving in International Commerce should be submitted."(4)

In short, USAID's new policy for AIDS relief seeks to lower rates of sexual activity involving multiple sexual partnerships with mere words. In its actions overseas, USAID promotes sexual promiscuity with OTC Depo and other OTC injectables. USAID is wedded to Depo. Globally, USAID shipped almost 10 million units of Depo overseas in 2000, (5) in conjunction with social marketing often taking the form of so-called Depo festivals.(6)

It's time for USAID to get serious about AIDS relief. USAID cannot promote fidelity in policy, and sexual promiscuity in practice.


  1. "Partner reduction is crucial for balanced 'ABC' approach to HIV prevention," BMJ, 10 April 2004.
  3. WORLD Magazine, "Putting money where his mouth isn't," by Priya Abraham, March 27, 2004,