Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The fierce urgency of stopping to think...


Hating religion is popular these days. For those of you for whom time flies, it has been in quite a while. If you want a really good example of this, watch the movie Elizabeth (1998). This movie decided to portray Philip II of Spain as not only very devout (he was) but as a result of that devotion, he was also mad as a hatter (he wasn't).

Last month, Pope Benedict XVI stated his belief that, "You can't resolve it with the distribution of condoms," the pope told reporters aboard the plane heading to Yaounde. "On the contrary, it increases the problem." This statement is both correct and mistaken. Condom use doesn't cure AIDS. In that, the Pope is correct in saying they don't resolve the problem of AIDS. They do not, in and of themselves exacerbate the problem. In that, the Pope is incorrect.

Let me break this down for you a little more. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), condoms, "when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing the sexual transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS." There are many sources you can find yourself that say that condoms are less effective when used incorrectly or not at all. Unlike in the case of pregnancy, I could find no percentage effectiveness. I saw several places where they are more effective at preventing AIDS than pregnancy. I'll accept that as true for this discussion.

Most places I saw said that condoms are 98% to 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. Let us, just for discussion purposes, peg condoms at 99.99% effective. Let's put that in terms I can explain well, Russian roulette. I am currently the reigning Russian roulette world champion; last year's Rookie of the Year.

In our game of condom and AIDS Russian roulette, we are going to put away my six shooter I have named, "Lucky," and get out my 10,000 shooter. If you chamber one round in a 10,000 shooter, spin the cylinder, put it to your head, and pull the trigger, the chances you will not decorate the far wall are 99.99%. That figure should be familiar to you. Assuming you remember to respin the cylinder each time you pull the trigger, it is possible you could go your entire life and not have a really, really bad day.

Here's the point that the Pope failed to make but the people who thought instead of just reacted realized. Sexual intercourse with someone infected with HIV is exactly like hanging out with your buddies and playing Russian roulette with my handy 10,000 shooter. At some point in the game, someone is going to "beat" the odds. The last thing to go through their mind, other than the bullet, should be, "I should have been more careful who I had sex with."

The pope also said a responsible and moral attitude toward sex would help fight the disease. Even the CDC says not having sex with an affected individual is the best way to prevent the disease.

Sex isn't a right........No, it really isn't. Condoms aren't perfect. People sure as hell aren't. The HIV infected person who resolves that they will not engaged in behavior that may transmit the disease is doing more than those who are passing out condoms. It isn't easy. It certainly isn't fun. But it is responsible, and it is moral.

P. S. You may have noticed that I did not address the notion of not knowing if your partner has HIV or not. I'll dispense with it quickly for you.

If you have engaged in risky behavior and think it's possible that you might have contracted HIV but haven't bothered to find out, then please don't have sex. Not because I am afraid you might pass on HIV, but because I just don't want you to breed. Do the gene pool a favor. Let it end with you. If you have HIV or think you might but decide to lie about it, please read the above advice.

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