Human Exceptionalism

Increase Health Costs to Ease Irresponsible Sex?

We often hear outrage over the health care costs associated with smoking tobacco and obesity. But irresponsible sexual expression also extracts a fortune in health care costs, and we never see the same kind of unequivocal condemnation.

Now, a column in the New York Times seems to advocate surrender to sexual irresponsibility in the AIDS fight: Rather than promote responsible sexuality, Donald G. McNeill, Jr. argues that society instead surrender to irresponsibility by providing the promiscuous with expensive anti-viral drugs as a prophylactic making them less likely to pass on the disease. From, “Are We Ready for HIV’s Sexual Revolution?”:

There are still 50,000 new infections a year in the United States, and 2.3 million worldwide. Widespread use of the drugs could fight that — but two imposing obstacles loom.

The first is psychological. Doctors and policy makers need to admit that 30 years of the ABC mantra — abstain, be faithful, use condoms — has failed. Men generally hate condoms, their lovers usually give in, almost no one abstains, precious few stay faithful.

Damon L. Jacobs, a family therapist and gay activist, remembered standing on a San Francisco street corner in 1992 handing out buttons saying “100%.” “It meant that, if everyone used condoms 100 percent of the time, we would end the epidemic by the year 2000,” he said. “Guess what? It didn’t work. People didn’t want to. To a young health worker, that was an eye-opener.”

This is astonishing. So, sex is more important than health–even life–to some people, and the answer is to increase the incentive or likelihood that people will engage in these behaviors? 

How expensive? Zounds!

In the United States, Truvada can cost $13,000 a year — and insurers pay [when the person is infected]. But gay black and Hispanic men — the highest-risk groups — are the least likely to have health insurance

So, should this be paid for by health insurance when it’s a prophylactic instead of a treatment? 

Meanwhile, the medical technocrats keep telling us that the elderly, the dying, and people with cancer and other serious diseases are going to have to do with less.

People have the power to control their urges. We still haven’t made that a societal expectation. 

Perhaps the time for “shaming” people who act sexually irresponsibly should be tried in the same way that we do those who smoke. It might save their lives and us a lot of money. 

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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