WORLD AIDS DAY: NEW CONCERNS ABOUT PREVENTION
By Rusty Wright
December's World AIDS Day focuses attention on the deadly disease. Over 30 million people worldwide are HIV-infected; only one in ten knows it.
Vaccine hopes suffered a major setback when scientists testing monkeys found that a promising vaccine could actually cause the disease it was designed to prevent. Dr. Robert Gallo of the University of Maryland warned, "We have no guarantee that we will ever have a vaccine".
With neither cure nor vaccine in sight, prevention remains essential.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says, "Refraining from having sexual intercourse with an infected partner is the best way to prevent transmission of HIV....But for those who have sexual intercourse, latex condoms are highly effective when used consistently and correctly." Just how safe are latex condoms?
Theresa Crenshaw, MD, is past president of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists. She once asked 500 marriage and family therapists in Chicago, "How many of you recommend condoms for AIDS protection?"
A majority of the hands went up. Then she asked how many in the room would have sex with an AIDS-infected partner using a condom. Not one hand went up. Dr. Crenshaw admonished the therapists that "It is irresponsible to give students, clients, patients advice that you would not live by yourself because they may die by it."
Condoms have an 85% (annual) success rate in protecting against pregnancy. That's a 15% failure rate. But a woman can get pregnant only about six days per month. HIV can infect a person 31 days per month.
Latex rubber, from which latex gloves and condoms are made, has tiny, naturally occurring voids or capillaries measuring on the order of one micron in diameter. Pores or holes 5 microns in diameter have been detected in cross sections of latex gloves. (A micron is one thousandth of a millimeter.) Latex condoms will generally block the human sperm, which is much larger than the HIV virus.
But HIV is only 0.1 micron in diameter. A 5 micron hole is 50 times larger than the HIV virus. A one micron hole is 10 times larger. The virus can easily fit through.
In other words, many of the tiny pores in the latex condom are large enough to pass the HIV virus (that causes AIDS) in its fluid medium. (HIV sometimes attaches to cells, such as white blood cells; other times it remains in the tiny, cell-free state.)
Johns Hopkins University reported research on HIV transmission from infected men to uninfected women in Brazil. The study took pains to exclude women at high risk of contracting HIV from sources other than their own infected sex partners. Of women who said their partners always used condoms during vaginal intercourse, 23% became HIV-positive. Risk reduction is not risk elimination.
One U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) study tested condoms in the laboratory for leakage of HIV-sized particles. Almost 33% leaked.
Burlington County, New Jersey, banned condom distribution at its own county AIDS counseling center. Officials feared legal liabilities if people contracted AIDS or died after using the condoms the county distributed.
AIDS expert Dr. Robert Redfield says that regarding HIV, "Condoms aren't safe; they're dangerous."
"Condom sense" is very, very risky. Common sense says, "If you want to be safe, reserve sex for a faithful, monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner."
U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher told the Southern Christian Leadership Conference that AIDS was rampant in the Black community. He urges education and mobilization.
After Satcher's speech, SCLC President Martin Luther King III noted that he (King) was uncomfortable promoting condoms. "The only way is abstinence," affirmed King. "Sex should not be something that we just casually engage in and take lightly." King advocates restoring fundamental values to society.
Moses and Jesus, ethical teachers whose values have endured, maintained, "A man...will be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh". Could it be that the sexual practice that they and their followers advocated -- sexual relations only in a monogamous marriage -- is actually the safest, too?
AIDS kills. Why gamble with a deadly disease?
Rusty Wright is an author and university lecturer who has spoken on six continents. "Real Answers" furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091; firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit our website at www.amyfound.org.