- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 12, 2009


The article “AIDS myths persist” (Citizen Journalism, Web, Wednesday) provides misleading information about HIV/AIDS prevention. It implies that Angela Parker, the young lady who is abstaining from sex and also appears to have a faith conviction, is misinformed. The next young man quoted indicates that if he contracted HIV, he would return to sexual abstinence.

This makes sense because being abstinent is a primary behavioral-change prevention method that provides 100 percent protection. Yet the article subtly implies that it is not so bad to live with AIDS and that those who practice abstinence are misinformed.

Also, the article jumps from talking about teens and HIV/AIDS to pediatric AIDS cases. There were about four cases of HIV/AIDS in children younger than 13 that were not perinatally transmitted in 2005, and there were 14 total cases in the District of Columbia in this age range in 2005.

The article subsequently describes Metro TeenAIDS as an organization “promot[ing] responsible decision-making among teens.” Metro TeenAIDS promotes secondary prevention (i.e., using condoms) almost exclusively. This approach comes in spite of the fact that the teens quoted in the article naturally tend to abstain from sex to protect their health. The organization also actively opposes groups that encourage sexual abstinence in preparation for marriage.

With twice as many high school teens in the District abstaining in 2007 (42 percent) as compared to 1994 (21 percent), according to the Youth Risk Surveillance System, the District government and health organizations would do well to promote the primary behavior-change prevention method of sexual abstinence instead of only promoting condom use through campaigns such as the million condoms campaign.