AIDS and the single girl
In “AIDS and the single
girl,” John Donnelly reports
that among delegates
to the 15th International
AIDS Conference in
Bangkok last week, the
Bush administration’s ABC
faithful, or use condoms
– was seen as out of touch
with new realities. As
girls and young women in
Africa and Asia become
increasingly vulnerable to
HIV as a result of sex with
older men, how should
the US and international
AIDS groups respond?
They should tighten up the message. They should say abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage. That's the formula for strongs individuals, families, and communities. Weakening the message by saying condoms are the answer doesn't help.
The example of the young woman at the beginning of the story was telling. She says no to unsafe sex because she has goals and hopes of creating a good life for herself. Unsafe sex is the act of people who do not have those things. The more the international community can do to encourage education and jobs for African women, the more women will feel empowered to choose healthy sexual behavior instead of relying on sex partners who expose them to AIDS in return for presents they believe they can't buy for themselves.
Work hard to spread the message about how AIDS is transmitted, make sure as many Africans as possible know how it's spread. Encourage the girls to arm themselves, and then let the chips fall where they may. AIDS is very preventable when people know if they have it and know how to prevent it. If old men with the disease are knowingly spreading it (and have a blind eye turned on these actions), and rapists aren't imprisoned or executed, what can you do? It's not our fault that their culture is deficient. The US shouldn't break the bank trying to find a vaccine or providing millions with cut-rate pricing on retro-virals and other such drugs. (not even considering the fact that many sub-Saharan societies seem unable to support their current populations, let alone the millions that will be saved) There are illnesses and afflictions that affect far more Americans than AIDS, and are much more involuntary (like cancer), that should be our primary concern. I have nothing but pity for those born with AIDS and those who contract it through rape, but it is a gargantuan task to try to change corrupt cultures and corrupt regimes.
The only way we can truly overcome the AIDS epidemic is to change the way we, as a society, look at sex. Now, we look at sex almost as the best thing life has to offer or an important part of life. We think of sex as the ultimate way a man and a woman (married or not) can share/show their love for each other. That sex between an unmarried couple (teen or adult) is to be expected and/or encouraged and enjoyed as recreation. These ideas or views of sex which are usually propagated by the media(Sex and the City, Friends) are all wrong. We need to look at sex as but a very, very small part of a relationship between a married man and woman and emphasize other values such as communication, love, and sacrifice. When we put sex in its proper place we will not only gain the upper hand on AIDS and other venereal diseases (such as HPV which a condom offers little protection against and can cause cervical cancer in women) but also the number of teen pregnancies and abortions (the killing of babies in the womb) will drop dramatically. Men will look at women as people rather than as objects for sexual pleasure and vice versa. Abstinence is the only way to truly protect one self against STDs. By instructing and educating our children responsibly about the moral and mortal implications of premarital sex, we will giving our children sound advice for a healthy and happy life. If we tell our children otherwise, such as telling them to put their faith in contraception, we will not only be lying to them but also sending them down a dark and dangerous path.
It is easy for someone who does not live in a "rape culture" to make blanket pious pronouncements about abstinence and fidelity. It is much more realistic to understand that certain cultures either never had any such traditions or have completely broken down as a result of colonial derangement and interference in their stable village-based ways of life that promoted fidelity and abstinence. Urbanization and free-market global economy have created a free-market global economy for sex, and women in many places have NO CHOICE but to comply with the sexual appetites of men - be it because they are turned out and cannot support themselves or because male relatives sell them into the sex trades. No preachy little christian piety platitudes will fix that. Women's empowerment through education and economic options, control over their bodies and fertility will change the equation. If a woman can otherwise support herself, she does not have to enter relationships with older men, sell herself, or be sold. So long as men can use women for sex just because the women have no other options, viruses like aids will spread along the trade routes and continue to bite industrialized countries at the end of the day.
Abstinence, be faithful, or use condoms was seen as out of touch with new realities??? What new realities??? Is there a new way to get AIDS? As far as I know the message has been the same since the early 80s. Why is it the U.S. responsibility? How about some of these other countries lend a hand? We already contribute more money and resources then anyone else.
The United States should completely and absolutely ignore anything the Catholic Church says and do the sensible thing. Education, Condoms, and any other program that enligtens people and frees them from a medieval, backwards slavery to the myths of the Bible is the only way.
David M., Waltham
I would like to point out that our current president has done more to fight AIDS worlwide than any other president in history, including Bill Clinton. Richard Gere reiterated this fact at a AIDS awareness banquet about a year ago when he publicly called out Bill and Hillary (Hillary was actually sitting about 50 ft from him at the time) about ignoring the AIDS epidemic and lauding Bush's $15 Billion package to African nations to fight AIDS.
Malcom, read the article! "Older men having sex with girls and younger women is what's really driving the epidemic." That's what it says. A selfish person isn't going to bother with condoms or faithfulness, etc., and how's a young woman going to force them to? As for responsibility The epidemic is worldwide and it's the world's responsibility. As the richest, most powerful nation, we couldn't help ourselves more by trying to stop the spread in the places it's most prevalent.
I believe that education is key. We cannot change the political environments of Africa (if that is what you want to call it) or the moralistic values the hold (or don't) but what the world CAN and SHOULD do is educate the young. Yes, I do agree with some of the posts that said that abstenece and fidelity within a marriage are important and ultimately the best way, but let's be realistic people, we (america) send out the deluge of sex-ladened programs: Sex in the City, our whole movie industry, our whole advertising industry-the list is endless. Our younger generation-has a plethora of internet sites that can easily be accessed that are down right repulsive, this all leading to the fact that it is being "normalized". Turning back the clocks of time to when skirts had to be below the knee isn't going to happen, nor should it be. This isn't about Girls VS Boys-this is about re-educating or educating people on how to avoid tragedys. Some of the posts on here are just so sad: ridiculing Christian values, blaming the President (where that came from I will never understand) and blaming people isn't going to accomplish anything.