This commentary discusses how linear models have been utilised to produce HIV-prevention policies that promote condoms. I examine how discourse on condom policy has been used to depict condom-promotion policies as inherently simple and rational, scientifically and economically sound, and, by implication, neutral and unobjectionable. However, I argue that such policy discourse has produced a myopic approach to HIV prevention, wherein the complex reality of prevention is disguised, true policy motives are concealed, and alternative approaches are marginalised. Although condoms are important in limiting the spread of HIV, the policies promoting them often discredit valid alternative policies, ignore existing values and beliefs, and create a dichotomy between policy formulators and policy subjects. Condom-promotion policies have often been myopically accepted because they fit easily into the rational linear-received model. I suggest condom-promotion policies should not be pursued uncritically; instead, a broad, all-inclusive approach to HIV prevention needs to be adopted.
Keywords: contraception, discourse, HIV prevention, linear policy, policy development
African Journal of AIDS Research 2006, 5(3): 289–293