Birth Control and AIDS/HIV by Kerry Mears
Posted by benjamincrookston on August 11, 2008
Due to the moral and many times religious beliefs of people and countries, teaching condom use as part of a prevention program has become less emphasized. A typical prevention motto is ABC- which stands for Abstaining from sex until you are older, Being faithful to your companion (and not having sex with many people), and Condom use. Many people focus on the A and B part, but are leaving out the C part. Sometimes due to religious and moral reasons, the condoms part of HIV prevention is left out, therefore affecting the people who probably most need them. PBS did a wonderful series on HIV/AIDS, called the “Age of Aids”. It can be located at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/aids/view/. In the story we learn about a wonderful passionate woman named Noerine Kaleeba, a founder of Africa’s first AIDS support organization. Her husband received a blood transfusion in 1983 with HIV infected blood. By January of 1986, he passed away. She gets frustrated when countries and policies leave out the C part, because she knows that condoms are what saved her life, not anything else. Unfortunately the spread of HIV/AIDS has become so big, we cannot forget the large amount of people who already have it. At the beginning of the HIV epidemic, leaving out condoms might have been a more viable option, but now it’s one of the most important preventions to stress. Many people argue that encouraging condom use encourages people to have sex as youth, or with sex workers, yet there are no specific studies that prove that. Plus, I believe another large moral issue that is being faced is the ability to choose. Of course programs should do all that they can to encourage and support the A and B part. We know that strengthened family ties, and stronger communities come from this, and strong HIV prevention. Yet, our programs don’t have the right to deny people the ability to choose. That would be dictatorship. People who already have HIV are already choosing to have unprotected sex. There is no way to force people to stop having sex outside of a monogamous lifelong relationship. We should encourage and teach people as much as we can, but they still have choice. And while they are still choosing to have sex outside of that relationship, they need to learn about protection. To me it is a similar principle as self-defense. If you take a group of women and teach them self-defense in case of an emergency, than some of those women will only use the skill when they absolutely need it, and some might choose to use it when they shouldn’t or don’t need to. Yet, I think that most of us would agree it would be important to teach the class anyways. HIV is a disease that is hitting husbands and wives, parents, and now children. We need to teach everyone about “self-defense” through ABC -especially with condoms. As Noerine said “…this debate of condom or no condom really makes me angry, because I know for a fact my husband had HIV; I don’t have HIV. If you ask me to put it on record what actually protected me from his infection, it was a condom.” Just because we have certain religious or moral beliefs about sexual relations outside of marriage or a monogamous partner, does not mean that we can deny possible health benefits (through the leaving out of teaching of condoms as a prevention) to those who are suffering with, possibly spreading, and at risk for HIV. After all, isn’t health a human right for all?