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Tuesday, 13 January 2009

AIDS and public policy

Many thanks to a correspondent for links to these two godo articles on AIDS and public policy from the National Catholic Bioethics Center:

AIDS and “Technical Solutions.” First Change Sexual Behavior by Matthew Hanley

AIDS and the Ideological Barrier. The Threat to “Sexual Liberation” by Douglas A. Sylva, Ph.D.

A quote from the article by Sylva:
AIDS is unique because, as a deadly pandemic spread mainly through promiscuous sexual activity, it threatens some of the most cherished modern norms concerning sexual liberation. So to promote the most obvious response to such a pandemic—do not engage in promiscuous sexual activity—would in essence be a capitulation, an admission that the dream of consequence-free sexual activity was not only impossible, but perhaps at least partly responsible for the scourge.
Hanley points out that the secondary risk-reduction strategies: use of condoms, voluntary counseling and testing, and treatment of other sexually transmitted infections, have had far less impact than strategies that promote abstinence and fidelity. As he says:
It is thus difficult to avoid concluding that these interventions maintain their privileged status not because of empirically observed scientific excellence, but at least in part because of the desire of their proponents to advance their particular vision of the human person, freedom, and sexuality. To the extent that this has been the case, one might with reason suspect that much of the international response to AIDS has amounted to a fairly wholesale abdication of sound public health principles in favor of ideologically based advocacy.
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