May 15, 2006
There is no doubt that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is involved in heroics on a daily basis. At the mention of the CDC, the mind conjures up pictures of people in white body suits racing across the world to halt the Ebola virus, sweeping Congressional offices for anthrax spores or carrying dead birds to the lab for studies on the mutations of the bird flu virus.
Click on the CDC Special Pathogens Branch web page, and you will find a long list of deadly and dangerous viruses ready to assault your body and do serious harm. Filoviruses, Hendra Virus, Hantavirus, Nipah Virus…you get the picture. We are lucky to have the CDC.
However, like all people and all organizations built on people, the CDC is not perfect. It is courageous, yes. And it is political, yes.
The Ebola virus is deadly. Thankfully, though, it is an equal opportunity attacker. An Ebola virus can spy any rather ordinary person just walking down the street…and attack. Suddenly you have an epidemic. No politics are involved. We, in turn, attack the virus with full vigor: quarantines, isolation wards, protective gear complete with masks and goggles.
The HIV virus is deadly. Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t need to attack. Instead, it enters the body with a special human invitation through sexual acts that send shivers of ecstasy through a person right along with the virus. Most unfortunately, using sex as its entry portal, the HIV virus …and the long list of over 25 other sexually transmitted infections…is political.
From the very beginning in the 1980s when the HIV virus was first identified, politics took control of the CDC and healthcare system’s strategies in fighting AIDS. The CDC was beset from all sides. Panic gripped the nation. How would we stop this deadly disease?
Many mysteries surrounded the virus, making the formulation of a public health policy difficult. Yet one thing was crystal clear. Men practicing homosexual sex were at risk and in danger.
In the 1980s, the CDC chose a course of action partly medical and largely political. To avoid offending gay activists, it did not invoke its prerogative to close down gay bath clubs and condemn promiscuous and clearly risky sexual behaviors. Instead, it held out its departmental hand with a truckload of condoms, coining the clearly non-medical nor non-scientific term, safe sex.
This satisfied the desires of a country weaned on free sex from the 60s. It also placated a main stream media that was busily crafting the finer points of politically correct news writing based on redefining and outlawing words that offended liberal sensibilities. Best yet, it delighted free sex advocates who touted the first billboard for Trojan condoms as a modern benchmark of enlightenment.
Twenty years later, we are struggling to deal with a major health crisis that has taken hold of our children. The effects of the free sex revolution have finally forced the CDC to retract promises of safe sex. Yet, the retraction is half-hearted and imbued with politics.
The same main stream media that sharpens its teeth on the bones of right-wing, radical, religious, fanatical victims it has been throwing to the lions for twenty years cannot be trusted to illuminate the dialogue on sexual behaviors with truth. Even today, journalists continue to describe risky sexual practices with the medically inaccurate term safe sex. “Enlightened” journalists have repackaged promises of safe sex in ambiguous (and politically safe) terminology such as safer sex and protected sex.
Why is this important for the average citizen to understand? Because it is the foundation for confusion based on the use of politics to script a medical response to the medical crisis facing our children. Adolescent sex.
What is the politically correct method of talking sex to our children? Unfortunately for our children, the lead agency in politically correct medicine today is an agency that has every reason to know better…the CDC.
Copyright © 2006 Jane Jimenez
Next week: CDC: One Eye Closed
September 26, 2005 – The Gift of Fear
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