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AFRO-NETS> Condom breakage & failure (2)

Condom breakage & failure (2)

...<<There is obviously an attempt to cover up and propagandize about 
condom effectiveness, allegedly to prevent STD transmission. The 
truth is always the best prevention. As a father of three grown 
daughters I want the best protection for my daughters, and at least 
some are willing to tell the truth, that abstinence or monogamous sex 
is the best prevention.>>...

no responsible health care provider or educator pretends that condoms 
are a *foolproof* solution for HIV, or that abstinence and *mutual, 
reciprocal* monogamy are not effective prevention strategies. Condoms 
alone are not *the* answer. Nor is denying them to people. People 
have a right to know the alternatives to condoms, the limitations of 
condoms, *and* to use them if they see fit. You sound concerned about 
truthtelling and individual responsibility; can you suggest a better, 
more complete way to honor these values?

There are many people who for whatever reasons will not choose to re-
main abstinent or monogamous--and there are many situations in which 
it is simply false and cruel to speak of their having a real choice 
in the matter. For example: what if a woman's husband despite all 
pleading refuses to remain faithful to her? What if a woman is re-
jected by her husband because she has an obstetrical fistula, and has 
no means of survival other than prostitution?

Should they be denied the rather significant chance to save their own 
lives, the lives of their sex partners, the lives of their unborn 
children, through the use of condoms? Of course we should all work to 
alleviate the societal pressures that put human beings in such dilem-
mas, and many of us are, but HIV will not wait for that blessed day 
when the pressures are off. It is killing millions of our brothers 
and sisters *now.* And you yourself seem to acknowledge that in a 
large proportion of cases, condoms function as intended. So why not 
make condoms accessible?

If your position on condoms arises from ethical or religious objec-
tions to nonmarital or nonmonogamous sex, as well as from your inter-
pretation of scientific data, here is an analogy for you to reflect 

Let's assume for the sake of this analogy you have religious and 
ethical beliefs against drinking alcohol, beliefs that not everyone 
around you shares, and may never share despite your efforts at per-
suasion. And let's set aside for the sake of this discussion whether 
those beliefs are right or wrong. (That's an important question, but 
it's for another forum.)

Driving under the influence of alcohol leads to many preventable in-
juries and fatalities that no one, whatever their beliefs about alco-
hol, wishes to happen. 

How would you do your part to prevent those injuries and fatalities? 
Would you simply tell people "Don't drink, it's wrong, it can injure 
and kill"? 

Or would you educate them about the heavy toll of drunk driving and 
about practical strategies to eliminate or reduce their alcohol con-
sumption so they don't get drunk in the first place? 

Or would you, in addition to educating them about all those things, 
also teach them--the not foolproof, but effective more often than 
not--strategies for how to actually prevent injuries and deaths in 
case they do end up intoxicated? (For example, having a "designated 
driver" before anyone starts drinking, having a friend take their 
keys away before they get in the vehicle)?

Which set of messages will prepare people most, for the broadest pos-
sible range of situations, to save their lives and those of others? 
Most likely the last one. Is it not the same with condoms and HIV 
prevention? It is very interesting that in Senegal many, many HIV 
cases have been prevented through not only teaching about abstinence 
and monogamy, but condoms as well. And this is a country where the 
prevailing religious and ethical beliefs about sexuality are those 
Americans would usually identify as "conservative."

Mary Jabulani

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