Changing Behavior Real Key to Stopping AIDSWESLEY J. SMITH
One of my most searing experiences was moving to San Francisco in mid 1992 at the height of the AIDS catastrophe.
It soon became clear to me that the licentious culture of SF was at odds with true AIDS prevention. This was confirmed for me one day as I was walking near the Castro District and was stunned to see a sex club open for business. I was infuriated. All around me were people dying horribly of AIDS, the pronounced suffering of which I had experienced at close quarters as a volunteer for Project Open Hand. And yet, at ground zero for a killer disease most often passed sexually, public orgies were allowed and supported by the political establishment on the pretext that it would be easier to get people to use condoms by requiring it in such open settings.
At about this time, to ensure that people could still enjoy the fruits of the sexual revolution, while reducing the infection rate, the patently false term "safe sex" was coined to describe sex with a condom. The only truly safe sex is that engaged in by mutually monogamous uninfected partners. Today's term for intercourse with a condom is "safer sex," an even more pronounced misnomer, as if that were safer than truly safe sex. But in the reality of naked biology, sex with a condom is, at best, less safe sex, with unprotected intercourse with other than with a mutual monogamous uninfected partner, being unsafe sex.
A piece in the Public Square feature of FT today gets into this conflict between changing behavior and reducing risk in more detail, focusing mostly on Africa, where it shows that promoting more responsible behavior over (but not exclusive of) condom use, dramatically reduced the rates of infection in Uganda and Kenya. From "Reducing Risk, Increasing AIDS," by Matthew Hanley:
Uganda practiced ABC, focusing first on A (abstinence), B (be faithful), and only then advocating C (condom use), which we have discussed here previously. But as Hanley notes, that success didn't sit well with many in the AIDS establishment, who insist that risk reduction should be the primary focus. When Uganda listened, rates began to increase again.
Hanley describes why risk reduction without concomitant behavioral shifts, won't work:
We see the truth of Hanley's advocacy in the USA, where despite the great increase in condom use, the new HIV infection rate has not gone down, but remains level at about 40,000 per year, with some 15,000 people still dying each year from the disease. If the current treatments cease to be effective, we will see a return to the community killing horrors of San Francisco circa 1992.
This has nothing to do with sexual morality. It is about public health and personal safety. That a post like this is very politically incorrect, I think, tells us a great deal about the appalling state of our first priorities.
Wesley J. Smith. "Changing Behavior Real Key to Stopping AIDS." Secondhand Smoke (June 23, 2010).
This article is reprinted with permission of the author, Wesley J. Smith.
Secondhand Smoke is where Wesley J. Smith blogs. He describes it as "Your 24/7 Seminar on Bioethics and the Importance of Being Human".
Wesley J. Smith, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, is an attorney and consultant for the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide and a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture. He is an international lecturer and public speaker, appearing at political, university, medical, legal, bioethics, and community gatherings across the United States, Canada, Europe, South Africa, and Australia. j
Copyright © 2010 Wesley J. Smith
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