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The (Anti-)Science Club
The fundamentalists, led by the Fundamentalist-In-Chief are desperate to spread their puritanism-based abstinence propaganda -- even if the cost of spreading it is the spread of disease. They're hot to put warning labels on condom packets saying what they don't do: protect from genital warts. What do they think, kids will say, "Oh, we're going to get genital warts so we won't have sex at all?" Right. What they're more likely to say (while tearing off all their clothes for some nice unprotected sex) is, "Oh, why bother using a condom?" -- putting themselves at risk, not just for genital warts, but syphillis and HIV. The religious crap being pushed over a science and reason agenda has real costs, and the idiocy comes straight from the top...in the guise, of course, of legitimate concern:

...President George W. Bush has asked the Food and Drug Administration to modify the current warning to include information about human papillomavirus, commonly called HPV or genital warts.

On one side are scientists who believe that condoms should be promoted as a crucial line of defense against several STDs and cervical cancer. On the other are groups that advocate waiting for sex until marriage, and who see the dangers of HPV as an argument for their cause.

Is sticking this warning on the condom packet such a good idea?

Adding that information to a condom label would be "truth in advertising," said Libby Gray. She's the director of Project Reality, an Illinois-based group that teaches public school students about abstinence -- and notes that most students she speaks with have no idea what HPV is.

But scientists who study HPV worry that abstinence groups are dismissing important information to promote their own values.

"I want to be polite. But it appalls me when I see scientific and medical studies being manipulated for a different agenda," said Tom Broker. He's a professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and president of the International Papillomavirus Society, a coalition of experts who study HPV.

The focus, Broker said, should be on the fact that condoms have been shown to reduce the risk of cervical cancer, which is caused by HPV and which can be detected and treated if women get regular PAP smears. (The federal Centers for Disease Control issued a recent report to Congress that included the same conclusion.)

Broker also said research has shown that HPV transmission is less likely when a person does not have other STDs, such as HIV, gonorrhea and chlamydia, which condoms have been shown to combat.

Both he and Dr. Ward Cates, former head of the CDC's STD/HIV prevention group, agreed that teaching abstinence is a key to preventing the spread of disease.

But when someone becomes sexually active, they also believe that "condoms are the best imperfect way we have," said Cates, now president of the Family Health Institute of Family Health International, nonprofit global health organization based in North Carolina.

I can just see the T-shirts now: "Some lady found Jesus, and all I got was this lousy chlamydia!"

Posted by aalkon at April 13, 2004 8:28 AM

Comments

Concerning your crack about the caption on a T-shirt, why do you feel the need to pick on us Christians to make your point? You could just as easily have used the moral teachings of your people - the Jews who take their bible seriously - or muslims, for that matter, to make the same point. Why pick on the very people who make the continued existence of Israel possible?

Posted by: Christian Reader at April 13, 2004 7:32 PM

I'm sorry, but Jews aren't creating policy based on a couple stories about the Garden Of Eden. And "my people"? I was born Jewish, but I'm globally concerned.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 13, 2004 8:23 PM

Some of my best friends are globally concerned.

Posted by: eric at April 14, 2004 12:17 PM

I posted that in a rush, but the point is, believe in whatever irrational, unproven stuff you want, but don't create public policy for the rest of us because you do. Anybody who does that -- Jewish, Christian, Raelian -- is going to catch my ire. PS In case anybody's interested, in this week alone, I have been accused of being anti-man, anti-woman, anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, and anti-autistic. Keep those angry cards and letters coming.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 14, 2004 12:47 PM

Should we put warnings on cans of Diet Coke that say it doesn't prevent cancer?

Posted by: LYT at April 14, 2004 4:33 PM

I'm sure that's next. The nanny state supreme.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 15, 2004 8:36 AM

And what a humorless, mean nurse shoe-wearing nanny it is!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 15, 2004 8:37 AM

How in the hell am I supposed to avoid cancer then!?

Posted by: A.Ho at April 15, 2004 4:44 PM