Bono:Supporter of US ABC Policy in Africa?

U2 frontman Bono was featured on Sunday's edition of the US program 60 Minutes.

From the segment where Bono speaks about his activism:

Bono once said, “I'm available to be used, but I'm not a cheap date." And he stands by that quote. “No, I'm not a cheap date. I'm in the checks business. You know, and not just people signing the checks, but people cashing them. And I'm ready to spend my, whatever you want to call it, the currency of my celebrity, if that’s what it takes to get there.”

He gets a lot of credit for lobbying President Bush, who he has met several times. Today, the Bush administration contributes to one of his biggest causes, AIDS medication for Africa.

“People openly laughed in my face when I suggested that this administration would distribute antiretroviral drugs to Africa,” Bono remembers. “They said, ‘You are out of your tiny mind.’ There's 200,000 Africans now who owe their lives to America.”

How does he get support for his projects? “It was probably that it would be really wrong beating a sort of left-wing drum, taking the usual bleeding-heart-liberal line,” says Bono.

Instead, he enlisted the ruling right of American politics.

“Particularly conservative Christians, I was very angry that they were not involved more in the AIDS emergency. I was saying, ‘this is the leprosy that we read about in the New Testament, you know. Christ hung out with the lepers. But you're ignoring the AIDS emergency,” says Bono. “How can you? And, you know, they said, ‘Well, you're right, actually. We have been. And we're sorry. We'll get involved.’ And they did.”

His proudest achievement may have been helping convince the G8 industrial nations to sign an agreement that will forgive more than $40 billion in loans to Third World countries, 18 of them so far.

“And these countries, instead of paying that money servicing old debts, can spend it on health, education and infrastructure in the countries. It’s an amazing achievement,” says Bono.

With all this said the obvious question that should have been ask was if Bono supported the ABC (Abstinence, Be Faithful and Use Condoms)policy being administered by the Bush Administration. If he is so proud of his work with the Christian Right, is he also proud of what they are doing in countries such as Uganda?

U.S.-funded “abstinence-only” programs are jeopardizing Uganda’s successful fight against HIV/AIDS, Human Rights Watch said in a report in March. Abstinence-only programs deny young people information about any method of HIV prevention other than sexual abstinence until marriage.

It documents the recent removal of critical HIV/AIDS information from primary school curricula, including information about condoms, safer sex and the risks of HIV in marriage. Draft secondary-school materials state falsely that latex condoms have microscopic pores that can be permeated by HIV, and that pre-marital sex is a form of “deviance.” HIV/AIDS rallies sponsored by the U.S. government spread similar falsehoods.

The U.S. government has already budgeted approximately U.S. $8 million this year on abstinence-only programs in Uganda as part of President George W. Bush’s global AIDS plan. The National Youth Forum, headed by Ugandan First Lady Janet Museveni, a vocal proponent of abstinence-only, has received U.S. funding under the plan. The First Lady has lashed out against groups that teach young people about condoms and called for a national “virgin census” to support her abstinence agenda. The Virginia-based Children’s AIDS Fund, an organization with close ties to Janet Museveni, was recently approved for a major abstinence-only grant, despite having been deemed “not suitable for funding” by a technical panel of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Uganda gained a reputation in the 1990s for its high-level leadership against HIV/AIDS and acceptance of sexually candid HIV-prevention messages. But public health experts and Ugandan AIDS organizations fear that the shift toward abstinence-only programs will reverse this success. Abstinence programs have been used since 1981 in the United States, where they have proven in numerous independent studies to be ineffective and potentially harmful.

Before Bono says he wants to be "used," he ought to make sure who is offering the cheap date.


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