While no one denies that AIDS education is vitally important if we are to halt the spread of the disease, many are questioning the assumptions on which AIDS prevention is based and the questions being raised are serious indeed.
Firstly, it is wrong to base education campaigns on the assumption that all the facts are known on how this virus is transmitted. We cannot as yet dismiss the incidences of non-sexual transmission (through saliva and so on) as isolated anomalies. We cannot assure those taking care of AIDS victims that they run no risk of infection. Ignoring these possibilities is playing fast and loose with public safety.
Secondly, we cannot assume that teaching schoolchildren about AIDS will have the desired effect. As our major article on the condom crusade in this issue shows, explicit values-free education on contraceptive techniques has been proven not to be the answer to teen pregnancy. How then can we hope that it will be the solution to the spread of AIDS?
Indeed, the public has a right to become sceptical about the results of publicity campaigns. While they may be desirable for “consciousness raising” purposes, the campaign among homosexuals in Montreal appears to show that the group most at risk is not modifying its behaviour to any great degree.
It is criminally wrong to promote condoms as the answer in controlling the spread of AIDS when experts are saying publicly that they are not completely “safe.”
What is to be done?
We must firstly support AIDS victims, showing them love and compassion as they struggle with this fatal disease.
And the obvious way to control AIDS is a vigorous promotion of those old-fashioned virtues: premarital chastity and fidelity within marriage. We must teach our children that these are positive and achievable values. We must refute at every opportunity those sceptics who say that these values are irrelevant in today’s culture.
The task is major, but not hopeless or impossible, and it is one we must undertake for the sake of our children and the future.