Not by condoms alone

Jr, David R. Carlin

OF SEVERAL MINDS David R. Carlin, Jr. NOT BY CONDONS ALONE SOCIETY & THE AIDS EPIDEMIC As I write this, in mid February, Liberace has been dead for nearly two weeks, Time is funning...

...if only we could do all these things, why, then, our problems would be largely solved...
...I suspect, however, that very few people really do believe this...
...If this disease did not have sexual associations, especially homosexual associations, certain perfectly obvious public health steps would have been taken by now...
...We are the intellectual cowards I mentioned above...
...once someone contracts the virus, it doesn' t go away...
...U.S...
...the last thing such Christians want to see is anything that has the potential for thrusting gays back into the pariah status from which they are in the process of emerging...
...We would have widespread and semi-compulsory blood tests to identify carriers of the AIDS virus (e.g., blood tests as prerequisites for marriage licenses, for all hospital in-patients, for all persons being treated for sexually transmitted diseases, for all drug rehab clients...
...But bear the following in mind: between one and two million persons are carrying the virus that causes AIDS...
...We would also trace and notify parties who have had sexual contact with infected persons...
...Any government snooping into our sex lives, especially snooping into the sex lives of a hitherto oppressed group like gays, imperils the entire structure of American liberty...
...Unless things change drastically, a considerable fraction of the population of the United States will be killed off by AIDS in the next twenty-five years...
...1) The gay rights movement is opposed...
...The stated reason for this opposition is a conviction that the measures will not work and might even be counterproductive...
...3) A certain kind of civil libertarian is opposed, the kind who tends to see sexual activity as the paradigmatic instance of action protected by the right of privacy...
...When the Angel of Death visits our street, he will pass over our household if we post evidence at the front door that we own a six-month supply of condoms and have successfully completed a 13 March 1987: 137 course of instruction on how to use them...
...And what about the rest of us those who do not belong to any of the above groups, yet have been unwilling to call for obvious public health steps...
...NOT BY CONDONS ALONE SOCIETY & THE AIDS EPIDEMIC As I write this, in midFebruary, Liberace has been dead for nearly two weeks, Time is funning a cover story titled "The Big Chill: How Heterosexuals Are Coping with AIDS," and the stock market value of companies that manufacture condoms is skyrocketing...
...Yet there are certain parties who oppose such common-sense measures...
...if only we could go into the high schools, junior high schools, and grade schools of America to teach our dear children the dangers of unsfae sex and the merits of condom use...
...If only Americans would get in the habit of wearing condoms while engaged in sexual intercourse, especially anal intercourse...
...If the present doubling rate keeps up (the number of AIDS victims doubles every eighteen months or so), millions will have the disease by the year 2000, and tens of millions will be carrying the lethal virus...
...Such enthusiasts, in fact, though shedding sincere tears for the victims of AIDS, see the present crisis as a golden moment, a teachable moment, for spreading the evangel of sex education...
...Surgeon-General C. Everett Koop has compared AIDS with the Black Death, the bubonic plague that killed about 30 percent of the western European population within a few years in the middle of the fourteenth century...
...Cultural antediluvian that I am, I confess that I have moments of weakness in which I doubt the wholesomeness of such categories of sexual activity...
...It's just that in the ideological atmosphere surrounding the AIDS epidemic an atmosphere, I think it is not too harsh to say, of intellectual cowardice and dishonesty (of this, more later) persons who actually know better feel compelled to pretend that propaganda plus prophylactics will do the job until either a vaccine or an antidote is discovered...
...It's not that I doubt the hygienic utility of condom use...
...Better that millions should be infected and die than that we should suffer the anguish of having such dreadful adjectives hurled at us...
...if only, we could remove ridiculous taboos against TV advertising for condoms, thereby unleashing those great public health educators, the condom manufacturers...
...To some, this comparison has seemed a bit hysterical...
...The present moment of the AIDS crisis might be titled: "By condoms ye shall be saved...
...and of those having the virus, 50 percent or more may eventually develop AIDS...
...2) Sex education enthusiasts are opposed, since such steps are inconsistent with their fundamental superstition, namely, that all our sex- related problems will be solved if only we can instruct people more thoroughly in sexuality...
...Koop is right on target when he makes his comparison with the Black Death...
...The real reason is that such measures will disproportionately affect gays, thus undermining the social legitimacy of homosexuality, the achieving of which remains the chief goal, the truly essential goal, on the gay rights agenda...
...We know what needs to be done...
...But if anyone really believes that sex education, TV commercials, and a national enthusiasm for condom use will prove anything like sufficient to curb the spread of AIDS, I respectfully submit that individual should have his or her head examined...
...but we fear being called anti-gay or homophobic or intolerant or puritanical or sexually unenlightened or conservative or Falwell-ish or lacking in Christian charity...
...4) Certain Christians with overdeveloped organs of compassion and underdeveloped organs of good judgment are unhappy with such measures...
...So mark me down as a condom proponent...
...Unlike certain naughty children, inattention does little to improve them...
...Their admirable and tender hearts go out to gays who are undergoing the difficult and painful experience of coming to terms with their sexuality...
...Facts, as the man said, are stubborn things...
...So Dr...
...after all, there are only about 30,000 diagnosed AIDS victims in the United States today out of a total population of around 240,000,000...
...I have no doubt that the widespread use of condoms will cut down on the spread of AIDS among those having gay sex, promiscuous sex, sex with intravenous drug users, and so forth...
...The AIDS epidemic, which had receded from the front pages for a time, thus giving those of us who measure social crises in terms of front-page headlines a false sense of security, is back with a bang, and the bang is louder than ever...
...138: Commonweal...
...But these things happen...

Vol. 114 • March 1987 • No. 5


 
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