"While Catholic and Protestant churches have been running AIDS programs since the 1980s, few evangelical Christian groups have done so. Indeed, as the deadly virus spread around the world, many evangelical Christians were silent or worse. Jerry Falwell called AIDS God's judgment on promiscuity, and former Senator Jesse Helms, a longtime congressional ally of the evangelicals, told The New York Times in 1995 that AIDS funding should be reduced because homosexuals contract the disease through their "deliberate, disgusting, revolting conduct." When lawmakers moved to amend the Americans with Disabilities Act to protect people with HIV from discrimination, some evangelical Christians lobbied against them. In a 2001 poll, only 7 percent of American evangelicals said they would contribute to a Christian organization that helped AIDS orphans."
~~~Helen Epstein, NY Review of Books, 04-2005
Since President Bush was elected -- on promises to provide more funds to faith-based groups -- many conservative Christians have begun to "change their tune," writes Helen Epstein in The New York Review of Books. It helps that of the $15 billion Bush has allocated to fight AIDS globally, much will be directed to church-affiliated organizations, with $1 billion earmarked for abstinence-until-marriage programs.
As a result, blind faith in abstinence has taken hold in Uganda, a country that was once the shining star of AIDS success stories in Africa. HIV rates fell in Uganda during the 1990s from about 15 percent to some 6 percent. The key was a multifaceted set of programs known as the ABC approach, which preached the benefits of Abstinence, Being faithful, and using Condoms.