AIDS Policy: Morality a Casualty at the Intersection of Politics and Big Science
A news item in the July 15 issue of Nature1 seems to take sides against President Bush’s AIDS policy. The United States, the largest donor for AIDS prevention and treatment, “is promoting a mantra known as ABC: abstinence, be faithful and use condoms.” Although it would seem these simple preventative steps would quickly diminish the spread of AIDS (read Colson’s report on the success in Uganda), Nature instead draws attention to criticisms of the Bush administration’s policy:
This approach was widely castigated in Bangkok, where 17,000 scientists, activists and officials have gathered for the AIDS meeting. Activists and some researchers are particularly critical of a congressional stipulation that requires one-third of the money allocated to prevention programmes under the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief to be used for projects in abstinence and monogamy.
“You’re not doing what countries want or what people with AIDS want,” Gregg Gonsalves of the US activists’ group Gay Men’s Health Crisis told a US official at a panel on 12 July. “You’re trying to please George Bush’s conservative base.”
A spokesman for the administration tried to deflect some of the criticism by reminding the group that President Bush is not opposed to the use of condoms. “Condoms are an important part of our overall strategy,” he said.
Most of the news article focuses on how to get more funding for research on AIDS drugs, not on preventative measures. An administrator of a nursing school in Botswana claims that public discussion about sex education and condom use is almost impossible in her country, which has the second-highest rate of HIV infection in the world, because “we end up talking to our people in a strange language that they don’t understand.”
1Erika Check, “Aid agencies predict victory for HIV unless cash crisis is solved,” Nature 430, 279 (15 July 2004); doi:10.1038/430279a.
What part about d-e-a-t-h don’t you understand? Listen to what the gay activist said: “You’re not doing what … people with AIDS want.” What they want is: unlimited sin without consequences. They want to engage in promiscuous relationships, knowing ahead of time the wages of sin is death, but make healthy people pay to find a cure that will allow them to do whatever they want sexually, whenever they want to. An old cartoon stated it well: a character walks right past the danger sign and falls off a cliff. On the way down, he is shouting, “free unlimited health care!”
The liberal nurse is making a racist statement. She thinks people in Botswana are too backward to understand the meaning of: “If you engage in this behavior, you risk getting this disease; if you get this disease, you will die.” We think anyone can understand that certain actions can have deadly consequences. Liberals deny that humans have a moral sense and the ability to make choices. They think that people, like animals, are just going to engage in whatever sex they want, and there is no way to stop it, so containment and avoidance is futile.
With any other incurable, communicable disease, the medical community would certainly put the highest priority on containment and avoidance (consider SARS, mad cow disease, West Nile virus). But since AIDS overlaps the sexual preferences of some who value their selfish pleasure over safety, and have enough decibels to drown out those with common sense, administrations are threatened to be booted out of office if they don’t throw more money at the problem when containment and avoidance would provide immediate relief. Let’s apply this reasoning to other risky behaviors:
- I like to hold skunks and squeeze them, but I don’t like the smell. Why doesn’t the World Health Organization recognize the pain of my suffering and provide funds for research on treating my nose and clothes?
- I’m going to drink and drive. The government should spend money to keep victims out of my way.
- I demand the right to eat poison mushrooms. I will march on Washington for more federal spending on antidotes.
- I like to play in snake pits. I demand free government health insurance to cover snakebite and cosmetic surgery.
- I demand the freedom to jump off cliffs. It’s the government’s responsibility to provide fluffy feather pillows for my landing.
- I want to drink lots of brown bubbly sugar water. I demand that Health Insurance agencies support my poor nutritional preferences.*
- I want to eat processed fats and oils. I want Doctors to find a cure for damaged arteries, premature aging and neurological problems.*
- I have smallpox, and demand the right to cough in public, and I will sue anyone who warns the shopping mall that I’m coming. Instead, the government needs to provide more hospital beds and pain relievers for them.
*Sent in by a reader.
If you have other examples, write here. Consider this: in California real estate law, realtors are required to divulge to buyers whether a death occurred in the house, or any other incident took place that might render the house “haunted” (believe it or not). There is one exception to this rule. Realtors are forbidden to mention whether a death occurred in the house due to AIDS, unless the buyer asks that specific question point blank.
Many AIDS victims are truly victims, and HIV is a global health problem that deserves high priority medical research on the treatment side as well. The plight of millions of orphans left behind demands swift and immediate relief. But surely, much of the global epidemic could be drastically reduced by a strategy of containment and avoidance. This should be obvious whether or not one acknowledges that this strategy just happens to coincide with a Judeo-Christian ethic.
This news story is one of many evidences that Big Science and political liberalism are bosom buddies. Any news item or editorial in Nature or Science that has occasion to refer to Bush or other conservatives will predictably cast them in a negative light, and will espouse political or ethical positions that are synonymous with those of liberal politicians; see 09/22/2003 commentary.