Head of UN Population Fund Denies U.S. Epidemic of Sexually Transmitted Diseases

By Stefano Gennarini, J.D. | April 7, 2017

While the withdrawal of U.S. assistance for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) was ostensibly about the agency’s financial contributions to coercive Chinese family planning agencies, the Trump administration might have justifiably been worried about the direction the Agency has taken under the leadership of Babtunde Osotimehin.

In a bizzarre exchange at a side event organized by the French foreign aid office on Monday at UN headquarters Osotimehin denied that the United States was experiencing an epidemic of sexually transmitted infections contradicting what the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention has been warning of for several years now.

The event choreographed by France made it seem as though “comprehensive sexuality education” is the most pressing need of Africans in Burkina Faso and Niger.

I asked about the quality of the sex education that was being funded by France. I pointed out that in the U.S. we have  many issues with quality control of sex education, and the result is quite understandably disastrous.

According to the CDC at any given time 110 million Americans live with a sexually transmitted disease, and there are 20 million new infections each year, 10 million among a 15-24 age cohort saturated with STD prevention information and who consistently use contraception.

I asked what France and UNFPA were doing to ensure their results would be better.

“I want to disagree,” Osotimehin responded while downplaying the importance of quality control. He said there was evidence that the prevalence of STDs had “gone down” in the United States. And scoffed at the idea that one in three Americans was living with an STD, and the CDC data suggests at this link.

Here is what the CDC data shows on STDs overall:


And here is what it shows about the new infections:


Perhaps Osostimehin shoudl not be blamed for getting his facts wrong on what was undoubtedly a stressful week for him following the announcement that UNFPA would no longer receive funds from the U.S. He saw a nearly 7% budget shortfall materialize in his agency’s balance sheet overnight. He appeared upset and bothered during the event as he lamented the “pushback” and “resistance” of “conservative forces” to the sexual and reproductive health agenda.

But it isn’t the first time that Osotimehin’s bravado has made him say controversial things.

In 2010 he publicly defended the UN Population Fund’s support for Chinese family planning agencies despite the one child policy (watch this video at min 17).

The event was eventful in another way.

Jean-Marie Le Guen, the French Secretary of State for International Development revealed just how important promoting international abortion rights is to France.

During his presentation, among the “values and principles that govern” French development assistance he announced the “right to have an abortion in a safe environment” at the very top.