Nov. 23, 2011
It was encouraging to read Michael Gersons column in The Washington Post recently on scientific advances which raise the prospect of Putting AIDS on the road to extinction. He is right to say, Religious conservatives have no objections to treatment and are neither shocked nor alarmed by circumcision.
However, he ignores two huge elephants in the room. The first is the role of behavior change in reducing infections. A Ugandan AIDS prevention official wrote in the Post in 2008 about his countrys success in dramatically reducing AIDS prevalence through use of the ABC messageAbstain from sex until marriage, Be faithful to your spouse, and use Condoms only if you fail at A and B. Gerson celebrates that the cost of treatment is now less than $350 per person; but Sam L. Ruteikara noted, Our successful ABC campaign cost just 29 cents per person each year.
Gerson noted that circumcision has reduced the risk of transmission from women to men, and that early treatment reduced transmission to a heterosexual partner. This may be encouraging for Africa, but is less so at home, where the CDC reports that more than half (53%) of all people living with HIV are men who have sex with men (MSM), the only risk group in which new HIV infections have been increasing steadily. Discouraging anal intercourse and sex with multiple partnerspractices not unique to homosexual men, but more prevalent among themare part of the only morally acceptable strategy to help America share in the end of AIDS.