Tag Archives: STDs

Poor, Minority, and HIV-Positive

Bad ExampleA recent study among homosexual men attempts to explain why some of them become infected with HIV while others do not.

For the new study, the researchers analyzed patterns of new HIV infections among 594 young men who have sex with men.

Participants were recruited from the New York City area between 2009 and 2011 and were 18 or 19 when they entered the study. At that point they were all HIV-negative.

Over the next three years, 43 participants became infected with HIV.

About a third of black, Hispanic and mixed or other race participants became HIV-positive during the study, compared to about 7 percent of white participants.

The researchers apparently studied such details as number of partners and particular practices–things that I don’t think I would want to spend my working hours studying for 3 years–and concluded that despite basically the same behaviors, the poor and non-white men in the study became infected at a much higher rate. The problem here is that while the researchers did study current behaviors–and we’ll assume here that the study participants told the truth–they did not study past behaviors.

If older members of a community behaved more recklessly, they would, predictably, have a higher infection rate. If the population of potential partners is more infected, then it is not terribly surprising that these young men would become infected at a higher rate. And since they have become infected, they will, barring a change in behavior, contribute to a higher rate of infection for young men over the next 3 years.

The researchers’ solution to this problem? Comprehensive sexual health education. Honestly, is the education necessary here really all that complicated? My city educates food handlers, people engaged in a far more complicated field, in a couple of hours, test included.

Comprehensive sexual health education can be very simple:

  1. Here is how you can expose yourself to bad bugs.
  2. Don’t expose yourself to bad bugs.

I’m not being simplistic here, nor am I being unsympathetic. Far too often, our society places young people in dangerous situations and then seeks to concoct some complicated solution. That’s what has created our epidemic of campus sexual assaults and it is what has a tiny sliver of our population of young men experiencing a ridiculously large helping of this still-dreadful virus.

While I don’t buy the whole “born that way” argument, I don’t doubt that these men have real desires. It’s not PC to say, “Just don’t engage in that behavior,” but I would urge them, “Just don’t engage in that behavior.”

While poor people, people who have for generations been disproportionately people of racial minorities, typically do not have a lot of worldly wealth to pass on to the next generation, there is no reason why they need to pass on this infection, which, undoubtedly is paralleled by other serious infections.

How the Duggars Are Right and Their Haters Are Clueless

Angry mob with torches and pitchforksMy four kids were all homeschooled, but I have felt totally inadequate compared to TV’s Duggar family, the bunch with 19 kids whose names all begin with “J.” I said that I “have” felt totally inadequate, but with recent news of the “Josh Duggar Scandal” filling the airwaves of the various cable news shows that I see at the gym, I’m not feeling so bad. I will confess that my knowledge of this topic of profound importance to our world is quite limited since I have only seen images and read a few closed captions.

It seems that when one of the family’s sons, Josh, now 27, was something like 14 years old, he did what many 14-year-old boys would do if given the opportunity. He groped a teenage girl. For this, the left-wing lynch mob has assembled, sharpened their pitchforks and lighted their torches, demanding that network TLC cancel the Duggars’ reality show, because, you know, Josh was accused of fondling girls more than a decade ago.

To be clear, especially as the father of three daughters, I do not take lightly any sort of sexual assault, regardless of its nature. However, Josh was a minor, no charges were filed, and it was a very long time ago.

But there’s a message in all of this that the lynch mob is too myopic to notice. The Duggars are right. They are right when they attempt to carefully chaperone their kids. (I’m not sure what happened to allow Josh’s hands their opportunity, but that’s another matter.) The Duggar parents understand that young people, especially young men, have a lot of hormones in action and not a great deal of restraint in the brains. Because of that, these parents attempt to carefully control their kids to keep them out of the sort of stupid actions that Josh apparently didn’t avoid.

My college has campus sexual assault posters plastered all over the halls. Why? Because we as a culture have abdicated our responsibilities to young people and thrown them into coed dorms, booze-addled parties, and a general hook-up culture. It’s no wonder that we have an epidemic of sexual assault and of sexually transmitted diseases.

According to one study, 1 in 4 college students has an STD. That’s 25%, but the Duggars’ TV show is an affront to our national morality? Coincidentally, I hope, 1 in 4 female college students can expect to face a sexual assault during her academic career. That’s horrific, but the real danger here is a TV show that features a guy who, 13 years ago, put his hands where they didn’t belong.

I find it sad that when a family attempts to raise their children according to some standards of decency, they are mercilessly attacked when one of their number is found to have stumbled in the past. Did these parents ever claim to have perfect children? Do the critics believe that they should have performed some sort of ritual honor killing when they learned of their son’s behavior?

The Duggars are right about human nature, about human sexuality, about parenting, and about the nature of sin. In the end, I think, it is this awareness of sin, this willingness to call it what it is, that most rankles the lynch mob. That mob never wants to think that any sexual behavior can be condemned as sin. Unless, of course, it is some groping done by a randy adolescent more than a decade ago.