Thursday, January 3, 2013

"Why not prevent HIV like we do smoking?"

My friend Wesley Smith has a refreshingly commonsensical suggestion to stop the spread of AIDS:

[H]ere’s an idea from a non-expert based on what I think is common sense. Why not treat HIV like we do smoking? We don’t wring our hands about smoking. We don’t tell our young people that we would prefer that they didn’t smoke, but if they choose to, we hope they will use a filter cigarette. Rather, from early childhood, we unequivocally tell kids: “Don’t smoke! It’s bad for your health. It’s bad for those around you. It’s bad for society.” In part, that is why smoking rates have plummeted.

Perhaps, we should similarly stop treating at HIV-risk youth as if they were fragile egg shells and bluntly warn about the dangers of promiscuity by saying unequivocally: ”Don’t sleep around! It’s bad for your health. It’s bad for those you sleep with. It’s bad for society.”
Perhaps if we employed the same social strategies against HIV that we have successfully used to combat smoking, we would see similar results.

So much commonsense, so little chance of implementation. You can imagine a public health campaign with one of those signs with a red circle around a guy's butt, with the slash across it: "Just say no!"

Never happen. Ordinary effective methods of stopping epidemics of behaviorally-spread diseases will never be applied to AIDS. Chastity would end the AIDS epidemic overnight. But the political forces opposed to treating AIDS like other epidemics are too strong.

AIDS is the only epidemic with a political constituency that facilitates the spread of the disease.  

13 comments:

  1. So much commonsense, so little chance of implementation. You can imagine a public health campaign with one of those signs with a red circle around a guy's butt, with the slash across it: "Just say no!"

    You call that commonsense? It would never work. Sex drive is just too strong.

    There are two tested methods that do work:

    1. Promote the use of condoms. This has been successful in the Netherlands in reducing STD prevalence among young people.

    2. Enforce chastity of girls by (threat of) murder. Seems to work well in Islamic countries, the Balkans etc. Drawback: entices young men to engage in homosexual acts, like in prisons.

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    1. http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/sexuality/se0074.html

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    2. Abstinence-only sex-Ed works so well!

      Hoo

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    3. The current sex ed curriculum - i.e., sex training, Bobby Has Two Daddies, and free condoms - has done a bang-up job (pardon the pun):

      "STDs are a significant health challenge facing the United States. CDC estimates that 19 million new STD infections occur every year in this country, nearly half among young people ages 15–24... STDs are also a serious drain on the U.S. health care system, costing the nation about $17 billion in health care costs every year."

      For example, 2007-2011 trend data clearly show that, while women and heterosexual men have shown a slight decline, gay and bisexual men have shown an unambiguous increase, and "men who have sex with men (MSM) now account for nearly three quarters (72 percent) of all primary and secondary syphilis cases."

      STD Trends in the United States (2011).

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    4. So overall it's not going that badly in the US.

      I suspect the STD increase among MSM has to do with the fact that HIV infection is no longer a death sentence, but has become a more or less manageable chronic disease. The lower risk leading to a reduced use of condoms.

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    5. You know, I see your point. It's just a more-or-less manageable chronic disease.

      Sort of like obesity. Or diabetes.

      Nothing to get in a public policy twist about.

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    6. "Sex drive is just too strong."

      I think that's the difference between conservatives and liberals. Conservatives believe that we are in charge of our private parts. We're responsible for our actions. Liberals believe that their private parts are in charge of them. They are not responsible for themselves, they're simply along for the ride. Mr. Happy is in charge, they just do what he tells them.

      The Torch

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  2. Things get a little weird around here sometimes. I was struck by Troy's comment, "[The] Sex drive is just too strong" for public service messages to work.

    Apparently, they agree in Swaziland, where they came up with a solution to the rape problem: "if a woman is raped while wearing revealing clothing, then she is responsible for the assault".

    The sex drive is just too strong, ya know?

    Left-wingery sure makes for some strange [ahem] bedfellows.

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  3. Do conservatives really need a big-government PR campaign to help them raise their kids? When it comes to comes to your kids sexuality, feel free to lay down your rules, expectations, and reasoning. Nobody is stopping you.

    -KW

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    1. Nobody's stopping you either, KW.

      No, we don't need a big government campaign. But when we raise our kids our way, the message that we give them is contradicted by the public schools, and we are accused of raising our children to hate.

      I agree that sex education should be left to the parents. Public schools are notoriously bad about teaching anything. Twelve years of schooling and the kids are barely proficient in reading and math, or worse, not proficient at all.

      So I see what you're saying. No sex education in schools. It's fine if you want to slap a condom in your kid's hand and preach him the gospel of safe sex. Just don't do the same to other people's kids.

      JQ

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  4. We don't treat AIDS like smoking because liberals hate smoking (ew...gross) but really dig butt sex. That's why.

    The Torch

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  5. 2. Enforce chastity of girls by (threat of) murder. Seems to work well in Islamic countries, the Balkans etc

    Balkans??? :)

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