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HIV/AIDS Education In Public Schools (cont.) Page 3 of 6

According to the article critical of conventional sex education curriculums, “A Case For Abstinence Education”, advocates of abstinence education value the following principles: The idea of comprehensive sex education’s “dual message of ‘be abstinent, but if you can’t use a condom’ is confusing at best,” and at worst, it promotes sexual activity; Teen access to condoms is “part of the problem, not part of the solution;” Teens respond to high standards of expectation when they are “clearly articulated and reinforced;” The organization also concedes that, “Some teenagers will become sexually active no matter how much abstinence education they receive;” intervention for sexually active teens should come from parents, doctors, family counselors, etc. not by the school districts or so-called family planning clinics; parents are the “primary care providers” for teens and should be at the center of all sex education programs; condoms do not offer complete protection against pregnancy or all STDs, even when properly and consistently used; and finally, “Teen sexuality is primarily a health issue. The problem is not the non-use of condoms. The problem is premarital sexual activity.” (2, 3).

There are some critics to abstinence-based principles. For example, some analysts, like Jeanette Broshears, of the University of Texas-Pan American, point out two recent studies in California and elsewhere show that having condoms available in schools has not raised the level of sexual activity. Ms. Broshears, who counsels college students on sex and substance abuse issues, also explained that condoms are the number one items teenagers are caught trying to shoplift. She says that’s why condoms are locked up now in some stores. (Interview, Broshears). Teenagers can undoubtedly afford to buy them, but because of the stigma placed on condom use, they’d rather not do so. There definitely is a stigma in condom use or, at least, on sexual promiscuity, and it is embarrassing to buy them in view of others. Another example lies in the commonly known fact that the Roman Catholic Church makes it very clear that contraception is neither ethical nor moral, and therefore disallows it, even for married couples. Whether Catholic or not, it is embarrassing, say for a married man, to walk into a store and buy a package of condoms.

What’s the problem with condom use in the fight against HIV/AIDS? Depending on the source, condom use is a generally accepted as a useful tool. The National Research Council’s Panel On the Evaluation of AIDS Interventions, calls condom use a “protective behavior” in their expanded book, Evaluating AIDS Prevention Programs. (38). According to the book, edited by Coyle, et al., condom use “emphasizes increased protection against risk rather than the elimination or reduction of risk-taking activity . . .” and calls condom use “barrier contraception”. To reiterate, condom use—even proper and consistent use—is not a risk-eliminating or even risk-reducing behavior, but only a protective behavior. Further, “The adoption of these behaviors are only important among those individuals who continue to engage in the primary HIV risk behaviors—anal or vaginal intercourse or drug injection. (42). While both advocates of condom use to protect against HIV during premarital sex, and opponents of the practice of premarital sex would likely agree that condoms with nonoxinal-9 (a spermicide) used properly and 100% of the time, do actually lessen the transmission of HIV, little is said to elaborate the point by those who advocate teenage access to condoms. That is, some conventional sex education programs might even go as far as, passing out bananas and having a show-and-tell about donning condoms. However, this is as far as they’ll go. There is not enough taught about the details of proper wearing and use of condoms, or its limitations. Similarly, teens do not hear, in sex education classes how important it is to wear condoms 100% of the time, 100% correctly, etc. Inadequate “condom-sense” (condom education) and/or sporadic use only makes it more likely that such use may cause the unwanted consequences, which was the point of condom use in the first place. Sex education programs certainly do not elaborate on the fact that condom use is simply a “protective behavior”.

Anti-condom distribution proponents would argue that teens are not responsible enough to wear the proper condoms every time, or to use them safely. Theirs is a good argument, because with all the talk about condoms being used properly, how many American adults actually know the facts about this protective behavior? Did you know that latex condoms with nonoxinal-9 should be worn properly during sex, and removed properly afterwards and what all that exactly means? Perhaps some teenagers know which condoms to look for, and not to place them in wallets, to avoid bubbles from producing, etc. But teens need to go out of their way to be adequately informed. Even then, conventional sex education classes glorify condom use as the best possible protection against HIV and ignore the facts.

A classic example of the ignorance and false sense of hope “safe sex” proponents perpetuate, is that they don’t tell teenagers “the rest of the story” concerning HIV transmission and premarital sex. In “HIV Infection and AIDS,” published online by the Journal of the American Medical Association, the U.S. Public Health Service reports: the CDC recommends that “only male latex condoms be used, and water-based lubricants should be used with latex condoms”. Two truths are present in that statement. First, safe sex advocates are wrong in encouraging the use of “dental dams” (mouth condoms), for oral sex protection, and female (vaginal) condoms as well, because according to the CDC, male condoms are the “only” choice, aside from their recommendation that people “abstain from sex”. (7). The other truth is the fact that no sex education advocate or curriculum whom I am aware of ever speaks much, if at all, about the need for people who use condoms to use water-based (as opposed to oil—petroleum jelly—based lubricants) during sexual intercourse. The use of a water-soluble lubricant is essential when having sex using condoms, because it acts to protect the condom against tearing possible during the act of sexual intercourse, due to friction. It’s easy to pass out condoms in schools, but without the proper training, on consistent use, proper wear and disposal of condoms, etc. this protective behavior will not become an ameliorating factor in the fight against the spread of HIV. Suddenly, teens can’t expect to just grab a handful of condoms and be okay. Now they must first learn the need for, and then use properly, water-based lubricants, if condoms would stop the spread of HIV. So any school board who wishes to make condoms available in schools—for those teens who, regardless of the information, are going to be sexually active—should have a very in-depth program and discussion about all the aspects of condom use, with the teenagers’s parents permission of course.

Another item which seems to be ignored by safe sex proponents is the fact that no “spermicide” (chemicals which kill sperm cells, helpful in preventing pregnancies) is an effective HIV prevention tool. Again, no safe sex advocate or curriculum I know of point out this truth. However the Public Health Service concluded its section on prevention of HIV in the JAMA article by reporting, “Although some laboratory evidence shows that spermicides can kill HIV organisms, in clinical trials, researchers have not found that these products can prevent HIV.” (7). Undoubtedly, some safe sex organization might indeed have “proof” that a spermicide on the market can kill the virus, but if such reports exist, they are intended as red herrings (to make people think that since it kills HIV, it is a good prophylactic against AIDS). Any such report would mean little. If these reports do exist, safe sex proponents know they are without merit, which is why they have not been made public. As an HIV educator, a Hospital Corpsman in the United States Naval Reserves, and a biology student, I realize it is commonly known that the Human Immunodeficiency Virus is very frail outside the human body, due to differences such as temperature and air pressure present outside the body. Even tap water can kill the virus outside the human body. So any attempt to water down the CDC’s findings here would be silliness. But it is appalling that information such as this from the CDC and the U.S. Public Health Service is shamefully pushed aside. Sharing these truths about condom and spermicide use should be a helpful reminder that we are fighting a deadly disease and losing our children because of the failed conventional "safe sex" education programs.

A Christian Response to AIDS: Research

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