SEXUAL ABSTINENCE AND THE UNREAL WORLD
by David Sisler
Chautaugua County, New York has won numerous national awards for its sex education programs that teach students as young as seven how AIDS is transmitted. Lynn Delevan, the regional health coordinator in western New York says, "[Mayville] is a community that has been on top of this subject, and it still isn't enough."
Delevan's comment that sex education is not enough to protect children and teenagers from exposure to AIDS was made after it was revealed that 20- year-old Nashawn Williams, who was diagnosed two years ago as being infected with HIV, had sexual contact with 28 women in the Mayville area. Eleven of them, one a 13-year-old girl, have tested HIV-positive. Test results from seventeen other young women have not yet been reported. Williams did not warn any of his victims that he was seropositive.
Even before revelations about the sexual predator in their midst, Chautaugua County's teenagers were making their own problems. In 1992, the county's rate of teenage pregnancy ranked third in New York State.
Robert Berke said, "We have got to street-proof our kids. Give them all the data."
Okay, Mr. Berke. Here is some data.
But first another news item which appeared several weeks before the revelation of the tragedy at Mayville — and except for the obvious irony, there is no connection between the two events. Durex, the world's largest manufacturer of condoms, hired Jane Fonda to be their media spokesperson. The campaign is designed to attack the idea that schools should encourage sexual abstinence outside of marriage. Fonda said, "Sexual abstinence until marriage is based on an unreal world that isn't out there."
Now for the data which Mr. Berke requested.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that breakage rates of condoms used during vaginal intercourse is two percent.
A study of the female condom "Reality" reveals a 12-month failure rate for pregnancy prevention among 147 surveyed women was 26 percent. Of the 86 women surveyed who used this condom "consistently and correctly," the 12-month failure rate was 11 percent.
The typical failure rate for pregnancy prevention of the male condom is 15 percent.
The National Academy of Sciences' Division of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention states, "Of the top ten most frequently reported diseases in 1995 in the United States, five are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Approximately 12 million new cases of STDs, 3 million of them among teenagers, occur annually."
Durex and Jane Fonda, among others, want our teenagers to use condoms, and not be encouraged to practice sexual abstinence. Let's go then, with the best figures available — when they are used correctly every time, condoms fail in two incidents out of 100 to prevent pregnancy. Therefore, when they are used correctly every time, condoms may fail in two incidents out of 100 to prevent the transmission of HIV or another STDs.
For a condom to be used correctly it must be fresh and must not be stored in the potentially damaging environment of a wallet or an automobile glove box. The cellophane wrapper must be opened carefully so that the thin latex sheath is not damaged by fingernails. The condom must be put on slowly and carefully, being sure that the reservoir end is properly positioned and that all of the air is out of the reservoir end. The top of the condom must be grasped immediately following ejaculation to ensure that no seminal fluid leaks out upon withdrawal.
And if you do that, each and every time you have sex, your best chance is less than 100 percent. And what about nervous, inexperienced teenagers, experimenting with sexual intercourse for the first time. If two out of 100 can get pregnant, two out of 100 can get AIDS, and two out of 100 will measure their life expectancy in years, not in decades.
On October 22, Ansell Personal Products recalled 57 million condoms, after they discovered that some condoms could deteriorate before their expiration dates, and the company was unable to predict which batches were at risk. FDA spokeswoman Sharon Snider said the recall "did not mean that there are 57 million bad condoms out there." Are you willing to risk your life, or the life of your child with that assurance?
A recent CDC report states that 87 percent of all reportable disease is sexually transmitted. That means that if sexual abstinence is practiced before marriage, and fidelity within marriage is maintained — those two conditions being the biblical standard for sexual relations — seven-eighths of all reportable disease could be eliminated. One hundred percent eliminated. One hundred percent effective. But Jane Fonda, and countless other condom crusaders, want us to teach our children to use something that will kill them two times out of one hundred.
When we reject biblical standards, we do so at the peril of our children's lives. And our own.
Published in the Augusta Chronicle 11/8/97
Copyright 1997 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
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