Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

HIV to Disappear? Hopefully, but Stop “Safe Sex” Misnomer


A study has predicted that HIV could be wiped out within a decade. From the story:
The virus that causes AIDS could theoretically be eliminated in a decade if all people living in countries with high infection rates are regularly tested and treated, according to a new mathematical model.

It is an intriguing solution to end the AIDS epidemic. But it is based on assumptions rather than data, and is riddled with logistical problems. The research was published online Tuesday in the medical journal, The Lancet.

"It's quite a startling result," said Charlie Gilks, an AIDS treatment expert at the World Health Organization and one of the paper's authors. "In a relatively short amount of time, we could potentially knock the epidemic on its head."

Sometimes I think these studies are published just to get the authors in the news. First, that strategy has been tried in the USA. And while it has--thankfully--transformed AIDS from a devastating and all-too-quickly terminal illness into more of a chronic condition, the number of new infections (some 56,000 last year) has remained relatively constant. Second, that kind of intense and expensive medical and social intervention is just not going to happen in poor African countries where perhaps 1 in 5 adults--or more--are infected. Third, the "safe sex" mantra isn't accurate and it strikes me that disease cannot be fought with one politically correct arm tied behind our proverbial backs.

As we all know "safe sex" is supposedly sex with a condom. But condomized sex (if I might) isn't really safe. To be truly safe from HIV, sex must be between mutually monogamous uninfected partners. Thus, to be accurate, unprotected sex should be described as "unsafe" and sex with a condom as a "less safe." Perhaps one day promoting social agendas, the reasons for using inaccurate or pabulum euphemisms, will take a back seat to accuracy and candor founded in love for all people in fighting this disease. Respect people enough to tell them the truth. Otherwise, I am convinced that barring a medical super breakthrough--for which we all earnestly hope--AIDS will, at most, be kept relatively at bay here and will continue to ravage in countries with poor public health systems.


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