Main content | Sidebar | Links
Visit Walton Academy Cards

Friday, December 1, 2006

A few resources for World AIDS Day.

The Center for Public Integrity, an group of investigative journalists, has released the results of its year-long study of the impact of President Bush's initiative to fight HIV/AIDS in countries around the world. The short version: Too little choice, too much ideology.

From the UU World archives, see Jonah Eller-Isaacs's first-person report on the way Africans are using music to respond to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Meanwhile, UUA President Bill Sinkford spoke at a World AIDS Day event in Washington today; his remarks have been published at

("Divine intervention: U.S. AIDS policy abroad," Center for Public Integrity; "Bush's AIDS initiative: Too little choice, too much ideology," Wendell Rawls Jr, Center for Public Integrity 11.30.06; "Singing in the shadow of death," Jonah Eller-Isaacs, UU World Summer 2006; "Sinkford speaks at Washington DC World AIDS Day event; urges congressional action," 12.1.06)

Copyright © 2006 by Philocrites | Posted 1 December 2006 at 5:22 PM

Previous: Dick Cheney's imperial presidency.
Next: Open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury.




Bill Baar:

December 1, 2006 08:23 PM | Permalink for this comment

I lived in a community with the highest rate of AIDs infection in Illinois in the late 80s. I belonged to a UU congregation there and saw AID's toll. It was a savage illness.

I have a hard time putting any faith in condoms after watching these friends die brutal deaths.


December 1, 2006 08:55 PM | Permalink for this comment

Right, Bill ... because the rate of infection would have gone down if gay men had not used condoms! (Huh?) What are you proposing in your wildly counterintuitive way?

Bill Baar:

December 2, 2006 09:24 AM | Permalink for this comment

My experience was Gay males turned to monagmous relationships. For two of my friends that was too late. (They taught the old OWL program too but it had a different name then. Listening to them talk abstinance carried some weight.) I remember people fighening to keep the bath houses open at the time too.

I find Sinkforth's talk irresponsible without a talk of condom failure rates.

The MD who taught my kids OWL class was angry with our public schools for talking along these safe sex lines. He treated STDs in his practice and felt it contributed to a false sense of security among the patients he treated who ended up infected.

You can't thumb your nose at science and the statistics of risk.

Abstain from sex outside a monagmous relationship. If you chose protected sex, your risk of STDs and HIV goes up. It can go up significantly. We shouldn't deny those numbers from people.

Bill Baar:

December 2, 2006 09:32 AM | Permalink for this comment

From Bandolier,

It seems that the reported rate of condom failure through slippage and breakage is significant. While 95% effectiveness of a contraceptive method sounds good, actually it leaves a woman with a chance of pregnancy which may be considered unacceptable. At 95% it is 7:1 against in any one year, rising to 33:1 against at 99%. As any follower of the turf could tell us, outsiders at 33:1 win races every day.

Someone is certain to win a lotto every day too. Just as someone is certain to get an STD each day using a condom. Weird how lotteries and disease work.


December 2, 2006 10:52 AM | Permalink for this comment

What's at stake, Bill? In Africa, the pandemic is affecting men, women, and children at a staggering rate. The medical and educational need doesn't have a one-stop answer; people need medicine, information about how the disease is transmitted, and methods that will allow them to continue to live their lives. That means learning about safe sex as well as about changing behavior. It absolutely means including condoms in the mix. What you seem, ever so slyly, to be suggesting is that condoms have no place in the public health response. The only advocates of such an idea have purely theological justifications for it, which it would extremely interesting to watch you advocate in a UU context.

(Meanwhile, read the UU World story. It highlights a broad range of helpful responses to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa and puts condoms in context as one necessary response among others. It also sympathetically highlights the important work that Catholics are doing among people who have been infected.)

Your love of selective information -- whoops! there's a purported 5 percent failure rate in the liberal solution! that means we should disregard the 95 percent success rate and rush to the reactionary position! -- is downright embarrassing.

P.S. I'm loving your Iraq war, by the way.

Bill Baar:

December 2, 2006 01:42 PM | Permalink for this comment

Lives are at stake. Suggesting to our kids 95% prevention rate is acceptable risk is not responsible. Telling our kids control yourself, but if you can't control yourself, use a condom, is not acceptable advice for me.

Here's what Chicago's Father Pfleger is pushing for Illinois. It's the kind of thing Rev Sinkford should have been mulling over instead of this protest. Via the Chicago Sun Times,

Marking World AIDS Day, the Rev. Michael Pfleger on Friday proposed a drastic measure to help stem the incidence of the disease among young people in Illinois.

The activist pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church wants mandatory HIV testing of every high school student in Illinois during their junior year of high school.

Pfleger said the state already requires grammar school children to be immunized against various diseases if they want to attend school, so he sees no reason why Illinois can not legally add HIV testing as another condition for attending school.

Telling kids to use a condom in the face of a deadly epidemic doesn't cut it.

As for the war, read the assessment by Iraq's Minister of Science and Technology, and member of the Iraqi Communist Party's central committee: Raïd Fahmi; interviewed in the French Communisty Daily l’Humanité.

What we need, is for those who support the independence of Iraq, and this country’s development, wherever they may be in the world, to express their solidarity for those who are fighting for these objectives. Unfortunately, stances have been taken by some of these forces which play in favor of political currents which are opposed to democracy. On the one hand, they talk about democracy and secularism, but in fact, they take positions which weaken, rather than reinforce the democratic and progressive trends in the country.

Comrade Fahmi is optimistic. So am I. We just need to fight a repeat of Bakers betrayal in 1991 of the Shia and the resulting slaughter.

If not, we better be prepared to take in hundreds of thousands of refugees including Fahmi if we slowly surrender to reaction and Islamic Medevilism. It would do UU's well to express Solidarity too.

Bill Baar:

December 2, 2006 01:47 PM | Permalink for this comment

Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe on what the west has failed to do there to fight AIDs. I wish Sinkford would listen to him too.

Our scope too narrow and we're blinded by our local issues about safe sex.


December 2, 2006 04:16 PM | Permalink for this comment

So, Bill, yes or no: Do you oppose the use of contraceptives? Do you oppose all sex before marriage? Do you think public health officials should disregard all evidence that suggests that condoms significantly lower the transmission rates of sexually-transmitted diseases?

My answers are no to all three — although I also think churches, schools, and other civic institutions can and should encourage responsible behavior.

Bill Baar:

December 3, 2006 11:36 AM | Permalink for this comment

I think public health officials have mislead people that there is such a thing as safe sex. There isn't. There is a risk for stds in all sex.

That's my point. That I wouldn't throw bricks at people who suggested sex outside of a monagomus relationship is wrong.

I suspect condoms for a crisis the diminisions we face in Africa, India, and Russia is laughable. I suspect they'll do little to prevent infections there. Especially given the prevlance now.

h sofia:

December 3, 2006 01:18 PM | Permalink for this comment

For some years now, I think the phrase has been "safer sex." Even people within monogamous relationships are not immune. For example, the Catholic women in African countries who are contracting HIV from their husbands because the Church still says using condoms is sinful (but infecting your wife with HIV isn't?) are NOT the problem.


December 4, 2006 02:58 PM | Permalink for this comment

Sen. Barack Obama, speaking Friday at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church, one of the more influential evangelical megachurches in the United States, put it very well:

"I also believe that we cannot ignore that abstinence and fidelity may too often be the ideal and not the reality . . . and that if condoms and potentially microbicides can prevent millions of deaths, they should be made more widely available. I know that there are those who, out of sincere religious conviction, oppose such measures. And with these folks, I must respectfully but unequivocally disagree. I do not accept the notion that those who make mistakes in their lives should be given an effective death sentence."

Amen. (Hat tip, Cass Sunstein, "Open University," 12.3.06)

Comments for this entry are currently closed.