Monday, August 14, 2006

A Novel Approach

I've got the pithiest and most succinct slogan on stopping the spread of global AIDS.

Instead of spending millions of dollars on fancy website layouts, hotel bookings, myriads of programs and pricey conferences to "raise awareness", I've got a unique idea that could stop the spread of AIDS within a generation:


We could also have "Use your head before you use your head!" and "Sharing needles to inject drugs? You're an idiot!" as slogans, but those are a bit more crude.

I don't really care if you are gay or straight, when you have sexual relations (how Clintonesque) with multiple partners and without protection, you are acting very foolishly. And that really is the bottom line.

I know the situation in other countries is a bit more dire than it is in North America*, but let's be serious. Clinton, Gates, et al. want to treat AIDS as though it is yellow fever or muscular dystrophy - something that humans catch through no fault of their own, and if we could only find a cure then humans would no longer suffer needlessly from this disease they totally did nothing to bring upon themselves. This is cognitive dissonance at its finest.

But the sad truth is, people do not get HIV/AIDS by fluke**. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the only ways to get the human immunodeficiency virus are through sexual contact with an infected person, or by injecting yourself with a needles used by an HIV positive person. In Canada, there was a huge controversy (and rightfully so) over tainted blood being tranfused into people. But this issue was resolved, and is no longer a concern for those in need of transfusions.

It seems amazing to me that people would still put themselves at risk, when it is so easy to prevent the spread of HIV. I must emphasize though, that people in North America are putting themselves at risk. You put yourself at risk whenever you choose to have sex with an infected person. Without protection, it is imperative to remain committed to one partner. You're risk of getting infected is ZERO if the only partner you have is not infected. Unfortunately the majority of people in the West do not see monogamy as a very pleasant option, but if everyone did, eventually AIDS would be wiped out. It would no longer spread like wildfire. There would be no stories like this:

In northern San Diego County, Vera's team from the Vista Community Clinic scribbles medical histories, takes blood samples and answers questions from workers. An encouraging 75 percent of those tested for HIV eventually get their results and education about the disease, she said.

Among them is Jose Hernandez, 35, a native of Oaxaca who has lived six years in a makeshift plastic room near the fields where he picks strawberries and avocados.

"It's scary, but I go now," he said.

Researchers said migrants who spend long stretches of time away from their families can be exposed to HIV through sex with other workers and prostitutes.

"A person has needs," Hernandez said. "You are here, very alone."

Many migrants forego condoms and sometimes share needles to inject vitamins to stave off illness and exhaustion, Lemp said. Hernandez knows condoms are important but admits he doesn't always use them.

Emphasis mine, and do you understand why I emphasize it?

If you aren't going to be monogamous, the next best thing is to use latex condoms. Don't be like the moron in the story above!

*I heard on CBC radio today how young girls in India get HIV by sleeping with their husbands. Their marriage was arranged for them, and they had no way of knowing that he was HIV positive. This is a complete tragedy, and if you are a parent in a culture where arranged marriages are the norm, then you need to be aware of this before you give away your daughter! I've also heard stories of how shamans in African villages teach people that having sex with a virgin will kill the virus. This is utterly contemptible, and utterly asinine. The west has been trying to educate Africa for over a decade now about safe sex and monogamy, but the people who believe such nonsense will simply never accept the truth. Whoever said all cultures are equally valid needs a smack to the head.

**The spread of HIV through blood tranfusions no longer occurs with any sort of regularity, at least not in the western world. You cannot catch the virus by sitting a toilet seat or by kissing someone, or shaking their hand. It is not the common cold.