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Yes, Sex Causes AIDS 

Unfortunately, the truth won't set you free

I don't know when it became politically incorrect to advise the public that having a lot of sex with a lot of different people is a really bad idea for your health. In every other instance, the Democrat politicians who controlled the Mecklenburg County Commission until recently have been all about saving the voters from their own stupidity. These are the same people who over the past few years have forced us to strap on bike helmets and install carbon monoxide detectors in our homes. They've even gone so far in their public safety campaigns as to warn us that even when worn or used properly, bike helmets may not always prevent brain injury and carbon monoxide detectors may malfunction if not tested often.

But you won't catch these guys using public money to inform people that studies show that condoms break in an average of one in 10 uses. That's because the truth might infringe on someone's lifestyle choice, a faux pas they apparently consider worse than a long, slow, financially devastating death when it comes to informing people about the links between risky sexual behavior and AIDS.

The real public relations problem here, the one that no one -- least of all the Democrat commissioners -- wants to talk about, is that a public health message that ties contracting AIDS to promiscuity carries with it the implication that those who already have AIDS got it because they were promiscuous.

No doubt this is true in some cases, but not true in others. It just seems to me that in any other case, if you were going to warn people about the dangers of say, drinking and driving, you'd want to target your message toward people who drink heavily while reminding those who consume once in a while that they are not immune from the danger if they get behind the wheel.

But common sense is apparently not the driving force on this issue, which has recently resurfaced.

It seems that the Democrats on the county commission, who happen, at the moment, to be in the minority, are terrified that the Republicans will institute an abstinence-focused HIV-AIDS policy and education effort.

Ever since fundamentalist Christians co-opted the word "abstinence" and infused a faith-based, not-until-marriage connotation into it that had not previously been there, liberals have run screaming from the word like vampires from the light.

The irony is that while the moral arguments behind the Christian abstinence doctrine are certainly up for debate, from a health perspective, they're right about this one. The more people you have sex with, the greater your chance of getting AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases. This is what they call common sense.

This may be politically inconvenient for the Democrats on the County Commission and it may annoy their core voter base, but that doesn't make it any less scientifically real.

Last week, County Commissioner Bill James, a religious conservative, argued for a county policy that explicitly blames the spread of AIDS on promiscuous sex and intravenous drug use, a position that infuriates his opponents. But what these opponents have yet to explain, of course, is if promiscuous sex and sharing needles doesn't increase one's risk of contracting AIDS, then what does?

These people have complained that James doesn't understand that people in monogamous relationships can still get AIDS if their partners cheat. I'm sure that happens. But isn't the part where their partners cheat "promiscuous sex"?

Unfortunately, like most things political, it's going to take a committee to figure out how to tell people how not to get AIDS without offending anyone. And of course, the last people Democrat county commissioners want on this committee are the evangelical Christian ministers that conservative Republican Bill James wants to appoint. Personally, I don't see what the big deal is. God forbid we allow the people advocating the only thing 100 percent proven to prevent the spread of AIDS to be represented on a committee charged with preventing the spread of AIDS.

While I have little interest in hearing their Biblical justifications for why we shouldn't be jumping into bed with each other all the time, I think we should at least listen to what they have to say. After all, these people have actually persuaded hormone-crazed teenagers to sign chastity pledges, which is more than I can say for the "it's OK to screw whoever you want, just wear a condom, cross your fingers, hope not to die and don't offend anyone" crowd.

Of course, all this assumes that the good taxpayers of this county actually give a rip about whatever advice the old bags on the county commission have for them about their sex lives.

Though it's hard to believe, I've somehow survived this long without wearing a bicycle helmet or buying a carbon monoxide detector. And though I rarely participate in risky behavior, I'm willing to take a chance and bet a fair amount of money that I outlive them all.

Contact Tara Servatius at tara. servatius@cln.com.

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