Many human beings seem to be naturally promiscuous, however publicly and politically we feign surprise and indignation with the revelation that yet another prominent citizen has transgressed our rigid moral codes of behavior. Why should it be a surprise when we live in a culture that uses our sexuality to sell virtually every product in the market place.
The dire consequences of our promiscuity include overpopulation, unintended pregnancy and its fierce abortion debate, broken homes and marriages and sexually transmitted diseases.
Despite our state legislature’s head in the sand denial, sexually transmitted diseases will always be with us. This year the increase in HIV cases alone are 5.7% over the previous year and the number of AIDS cases has increased 16.7%. Between 1983 to the present the cumulative number of Utahan’s living with HIV or AIDS are 1062 and 2476 respectfully.
Statistics can be deceiving as the absolute numbers of HIV infections are relatively low in Utah which have made our state ineligible for additional funding from Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Our elected officials are not the only folks living in denial. Everyone who partakes in non safe sex with another human being is at risk.
Despite 25 years of education, men who have sex with other men (MSM) are by far the largest group of individuals who are infected with the HIV virus in the US. In Africa and the Caribbean the disease is spread largely by heterosexual contact or by injection drug abuse.
Because some of these MSM in Utah are either bisexual or injection drug users (IDU) the virus is being transmitted to their female partners. Unless this stops the demographics of the disease will change and Utah will start to resemble Haiti, where at least 2% of the entire population is infected.
For 6 years I have been a member of the Utah Department of Health HIV Prevention Community Planning Committee. Each year we are shown an epidemiological profile of the disease and with decreasingly paltry funds we assist in determining which groups receive funding for their largely volunteer prevention efforts. The amount of money our state is able to spend in prevention for one year would not cover the estimated lifetime cost of treatment for ONE individual.
Craigslist and other on line “dating” sites are facilitating the epidemic. On any given day there are over 100 lurid solicitations from men seeking to have sex with other men in Salt Lake City alone. The scene is repeated in every major city in the United States as well as in many rural areas.
Most solicitations often include nonsensical statements like, “I’m HIV negative and you should be too.” However there is no assurance that the individuals making these claims are indeed free of HIV.
Rates of other sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes and syphilis are already increasing in incidence in the general population and HIV occasionally follows along.
Regrettably our population has been lulled into believing HIV is a chronic but otherwise manageable disease, however the cost of treatment over an individuals lifetime of approximately 24 years is between $354,100 and $567,000. In addition the potent cocktail of anti viral medications one must take to control the virus are themselves toxic.
Like Global Warming and Peak Oil, the Pentagon and the White House considers HIV/AIDS a threat to our national security yet our republican dominated legislature refuses to act decisively, preferring instead to ignore problems in the hope they will go away. How unfortunate for our young, soon to be, sexually active children.