p>Do you wonder what drives me to continue spreading the hopeful message of Powerful Choices across our state? Many contributing factors have led to this passion of mine, but the inspiration I received at this 2004 conference inspired me to press on. I believed that saving the youth of America from the devastation of HIV/Aids could continue by spreading the work we had begun in our community of Cedar Rapids to the state and then to the nation. The conference I refer to was in June 2004. I was privileged to be able to meet and speak with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and his wife, Janet. At that time they were attending the Medical Institute for Sexual Health’s (MISH) national meeting in Washington DC. They came to be awarded in recognition of their successful fight against the HIV/Aids pandemic and were given the Hero Award by the institute. In that year President George Bush commended Uganda’s ABC (Abstinence, Be faithful in marriage and use Condoms) strategy on HIV/Aids.
According to Mrs. Museveni who addressed the conference,
“The message was simple, and it was this: that AIDS is transmitted mainly through heterosexual contact (in the Ugandan context); that it has no cure and leads to death; that young people can avoid it by completely abstaining from sexual activity until they are married; married people should stick only to their marriage partners and be faithful, and those who have risky lifestyles should use the condom to reduce the likelihood of infection or reinfection in the case of those already infected.”
Mrs. Museveni indicated that she attributes the success of the program to the continuity and consistency of the abstinence message in addition to the persistence of political leadership in magnifying the message. The First Lady told conference attendees, including the staff of Equipping Youth of 2004, that Uganda registered success in the war against the epidemic due to the openness policy of abstinence backed by the country’s leadership, reducing the spread of the disease from over 30% in the 1980s to their current 2004 statistic of 6%.
In 2004 I was inspired to persist in bringing Abstinence until Marriage Education to the youth of our community and our state by the First lady of Uganda. HIV/Aids was not my only concern. Many other STIs threaten the health of our youth.
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