Thursday, March 19, 2009

Is The Church and The Pope racist?

The Pope on a recent visit to Africa has denounced the use of condoms. I would have to argue that there are many parts of Africa deeply affected by AIDS and HIV, and the goal should be to do anything that increases the percentage of the population that is not infected. Even if you're speaking to people with all the infrastructure necessary to follow your message, the youth of the developed world, the message of abstinence only, is less effective at getting through than the message of condom use[1]. My additional reason for this is that those who aren't getting the condoms are a good idea message, are even less likely to get the idea that sex is bad.

Therefore, assuming abstinence-only prevents the spread of the infection by 100%, less than 100% of the people will listen, thus the effectiveness of abstinence-only is only as effective as the percent of those who follow through with that message. The pope (or some cardinal) also said that condom use, as a means to reduce the spread of disease will be effective 87% of the time. Assuming 87% of people follow that advice, at a success rate of 87%, you have a blanket 75% of people who are now immunized against the infection. If 3/4 of the population follows through with the abstinence-only philosophy (which is a mighty high number), then you have a 75% protection from infection. If you count the 87 - 75 = 12% of people who agree with the condom message but don't agree with the abstinence message, then you have a bonus 12% * .87 = 10.4% of people who might also be protected from infection. So in my view abstinence-only education only leaves people vulnerable to infection.

According to US law, knowingly infection someone with the AIDS virus is a federal crime, perhaps somewhat equivalently, knowingly choosing a suboptimal strategy leaves you responsible for gap between effectiveness of the two strategies, therefore, by promoting a suboptimal strategy, the church, and the pope do not have a clean conscience when it comes to the best interests of their fellow man.

[1] D. Kirby, National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Emerging Answers: Research Findings on Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy, at 88 (May 2001) ("[T]here do not currently exist any abstinence-only programs with reasonably strong evidence that they actually delay the initiation of sex or reduce its frequency").

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