Monday, March 23, 2009

Asia and pushing safe sex

with all the kerfluffle about the Pope, I think a lot of activists are getting things mixed up.

For example, gay HIV activists are protesting in Paris: But the tremendous number of sexual partners of many gay men would make most people astonished.

The dirty little secret in Africa is that much of the HIV spread is due to genital sores (uncircumcized men and women who use drying agents in the vagina because men like the "dry" feel") .

Make it sexy for a woman to use "anti viral foam" which is not contraceptive, and even the Catholics will be giving it out to those who test positive to protect the spouse.

And make teenaged boys go out and arrange their own circumcision as proof that they have reached manhood (here in the Philippines, the boys arrange it themselves, although nowadays, the hospitals will hold clinics for the boys). Indeed, make it a puberty ceremony, as is done in many African tribes, and in some Muslim areas.

I think a lot of the American view of HIV in Africa is that they think Africans are all promiscuous. I remember a lot of racist jokes when early studies showed HIV came from Monkeys. These racists were well educated people, yet didn't realize that poor people ate monkey meat, and could get infected that way.

But how many HIV cases are spread via poor clinics that reuse syringes and needles because they can't aff0rd to buy clean new ones? H0w many cases are from injections from self proclaimed healers who give out herbal medicine and vitamin or anti biotic injections, without adequate ways to clean the syringes?

How many cases are because of scarifiction cuts, either as medical treatment or for ritual reasons?

As for condoms: Africa should do as many Asian countries: separate the HIV teachings for different groups.

Encourage men to respect women, and be faithful. Promote fidelity as the behavior of a real man. Encourage Mistresses and polygamy for men who have no self control.

For teenagers, stress putting off sex until maturity. You can combine birth control/condom instructions with abstinence : You stress abstinence until one is ready for marriage (which of course may mean lobola paid). Younger women have thinner mucus membranes and are more prone to get HIV, so even delaying sex will lower the rate for girls.

Maybe restore tribal court, to sue the father of the child conceived.

Prosecute those who rape. Make it a priority. A few well publicized cases might make men stop, especially for those raping young girls.

And then work with sex workers and populations that use sex workers (truck drivers, men working away from home without wives) to use condoms.

And employers should encourage conjugal visits, or at least test their men before they go home to visit, and then if they test positive, inform the men of the importance of protecting their wives...

Protesting the Pope for pointing out that fidelity and care in marriage is the best way to stop HIV is stupid: Such lessons need to be taught to counteract the garbage of pornography of promiscuity sold by the west as normal.

But for those already victimized, the "sin" of promiscuity is a lot bigger than the sin of using a condom to stop spreading disease.

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