Monday, December 22, 2008

Condoms Instead of Abstinence Education

The headline on this post would seem to most rational people to be a given. For Dallas County Commissioners, it is political poison. In the land of Crawlforth there is a vast ignorant party that represents right wingers to whom life is unimportant if it belongs to some one else. They are overrepresented in government bodies in these parts. The results are idiotic. Condoms can't be distributed by Dallas public health workers.

Guess what? AIDs incidence is rising in Dallas County.

The number of Dallas County residents living with HIV and AIDS has steadily increased during the past five years.

But county health workers still are not allowed to distribute condoms in high-risk neighborhoods because of a controversial Commissioners Court policy passed 13 years ago.

At least two court members, however, are hoping to reverse that policy.

"I can't continue to join the ostrich head-in-the-sand group given the numbers," said Commissioner John Wiley Price, a Democrat who raised the issue during a recent meeting.

Dallas County had the highest HIV rate in Texas last year and in 2006, state officials say, although the reported number of new cases has been decreasing.

The number of chlamydia and gonorrhea cases is up, according to county statistics.

Before 1995, county health workers routinely ventured into local communities to hand out condoms and needle sterilization kits to those with the greatest risk of infection. But that year, a narrow majority of commissioners voted to end the practice, saying it encouraged illegal and immoral behavior.

The commissioners also approved regulations requiring county health programs to emphasize abstinence. It gave Dallas County the distinction of having the only public health agency in the state that barred condoms in education and prevention programs.

This isn't funny to anyone outside the televangelical community. It costs lives, and it costs immense amounts in treatment expense which could easily be avoided.

Ending the madness here is a beginning. Of course, the immense amounts of foreign aid that have been diverted into abstinence programs could also be kept from this wastage by the same approach. Actual preventive methods are relatively inexpensive, and are readily available.

The choice is easy, outside of the psychotic realms that despise real science and would rather spout nonsense than act in everyone's best interests. Abstain from idiocy, that's abstinence worth teaching.

Elected officials should not put ideology above the public interest.

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