April 17, 2005

A Useful Message From The Pulpit

In response to Angola's epidemic of the hemorrhagic fever-producing Marburg virus, local religious leaders have been enlisted to encourage full cooperation with health authorities.

... Local bishops, priests, chieftains known as sobos and traditional African healers are joining health teams going to villages to boost understanding of the disease, still largely limited to the town of Uige itself, the WHO said.

Preachers made the appeals in churches Sunday.

"We are telling people that if they are ill -- particularly if they have a fever -- they must come to us," WHO spokesman Dave Daigle told Reuters by telephone from Uige. "Even if you get better, if you have Marburg there's a good chance you will infect your family."

Health workers say Marburg has killed 219 of the 240 people who contracted it in Uige Province, with scattered other cases occurring across the country among travelers returning from the infected area.

Officials worry that more victims are being hidden by families too scared to bring them to hospital. ...

Let me take this opportunity to point out how irritated I am by the fact that you can get this kind of supportive response for what will hopefully prove a small and short-term outbreak, but not get it for AIDS prevention. HIV/AIDS is killing millions in Africa, hollowing out the 18-45 year old demographic that generates most of any society's economic activity.

They can urge people to alter ancient burial customs to avoid the spread of hemorrhagic fever, but not directly address pervasive sexual behavior (see previous post) that makes a continuing AIDS pandemic a serious threat to the entire continent. It's just infuriating.

Indeed, as the Light of Reason points out, a new vaccine againt human papilloma virus (HPV) is likely to face serious opposition from religious conservatives, even though it could prevent the deaths of millions of women in developing nations from cervical cancer. Even though it could cut the risk of the millions of women in America who are infected.

For the sake of punishing people for wanting to have sex, to insist on some warped notion of 'responsibility', information that could allow people to be genuinely responsible participants in their sexual experience is blocked. Out of a deep-seated contempt for human nature, AIDS will continue to spread unabated, because superstitions, discriminatory attitudes and ridiculous myths aren't challenged by facts.

... Researchers postulate that teenagers may be trying to avoid pregnancy by engaging in oral sex, considering it a "safer" alternative. Many believe that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as gonorrhea, herpes, hepatitis, chlamydia and HIV cannot be contracted through oral sex. But the facts prove otherwise.

Any oral sexual contact can lead to a lifelong chronic disease if one of the participants is infected. One recently diagnosed teenager who had contracted herpes from oral sex was surprised, since she didn't believe that was possible, Stagg said. He also said that with new treatments for HIV, people mistakenly downplayed the harmful effects on one's quality of life.

In regard to health risks, Louisiana is among the most affected states for STD infections. According to the Louisiana Office of Public Health, the state incidence rate for both syphilis and gonorrhea in 2001 were more than one and one half times greater than the national rate, and incidences of chlamydia were one and one fifth higher than the national rate.

"What is 'sex' definitely comes into play," according to Dr. Ronald Wilcox, who works in the Family Practice clinic at Louisiana State University/Tulane at Charity Hospital, He said that some young women even engaged in anal sex, believing that they were preserving their virginity.

... Most sources cited for this article said that the Bush administration's emphasis on abstinence hindered their ability to educate young people about sexually transmitted diseases. Federally funded abstinence education programs hold the principle that "Abstinence from sexual activity outside marriage is the expected standard for all school-age children."

Under the "abstinence only" policy, health workers are not allowed to mention condoms or any other practice that would infer that the patient might be engaging, even theoretically, in sexual behavior.

... Writer Margo Adler, in an article published for Tulane University students, reported that "according to Planned Parenthood, 85 percent of voters feel students should be educated about contraception and STD prevention. In addition, seven out of ten Americans oppose an abstinence-only curriculum that bans teaching about contraception, but only five percent of American school children receive safe sex education, according to Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. ...

To me, the biggest perverts in this country are the people who think that you can deny human nature and not have to contend with ensuing disaster. Or maybe they just don't care, which makes them even bigger perverts. They're lovers of pain, cruel and unusual punishment, disease, death, ruined lives and preventable tragedy. That is one sick motherf*ing fetish.

Posted by natasha at April 17, 2005 11:39 AM | Religion | Technorati links |