The SanityPrompt

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Friday, August 26, 2005

Ladies & Gentlemen, This Guy's a Doctor

From a NYTimes Editorial:

What? Condoms Can Prevent AIDS? No Way! - New York Times

Six years ago, former prostitutes in several Central American countries began going to brothels, beer halls, bars and discos from Tegucigalpa to Managua and Mexico City. Every night, these women walked out of their homes and into the red-light districts in the poorest parts of these very poor cities. They carried over their shoulders bags filled with their props for the night.

Their aim was simple: to teach their former colleagues about the dangers of H.I.V. and AIDS and how to protect themselves and others.

Simple and straightforward, right? Well, not to Senator Tom Coburn, the Oklahoma Republican who recently wrote to President Bush to demand that the United States stop financing this preventive program, run by Population Services International, a nonprofit group.

This is the same guy, who, when running for the Senate last year claimed that a conspiracy was afoot in Oklahoma to turn girls into lesbians in the gym locker-rooms. "You know, Josh Burkeen is our rep down here in the southeast area. He lives in Colgate and travels out of Atoka. He was telling me lesbianism is so rampant in some of the schools in southeast Oklahoma that they'll only let one girl go to the bathroom. Now think about it. Think about that issue. How is it that that's happened to us?"

"It's a simple activity for largely illiterate people," said Michael Holscher, the regional executive director for P.S.I. "We can't just stand up in a bar and say, 'AIDS will kill you.' With an interactive activity, we can hold their attentions, sometimes for as long as an hour."

Apparently one hour of AIDS prevention in a Guatemala bar is one hour too long for the senator from Oklahoma's delicate sensibilities. He called Noches Vives a "misuse of funds to organize and sponsor parties and dance contests to exploit victims of the sex trade."

Shortly after Mr. Coburn's letter went out, Population Services International received word from the United States Agency for International Development that it was cutting off money for the program.

Luckily, the Republican Party is not fill with all Yahoos. Some folks see the sense in this program and kudos to them.

Many of Mr. Coburn's fellow Republican senators disagree with him. Larry Craig of Idaho, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Gordon Smith of Oregon have asked USAid's administrator, Andrew Natsios, to reconsider.

"Controlling infectious diseases abroad is domestic policy as much as foreign," Mr. Craig said. "Ignoring the problem by hamstringing proven programs is a disservice to U.S. citizens who are impacted by the wave of immigrants from these countries."

No kidding. It is also an absurd approach to curtailing AIDS. Mr. Coburn, a doctor, has apparently forgotten everything they taught him in medical school. Any doctor with sense knows that while abstinence may be a surefire way to prevent AIDS, teaching condom usage to prostitutes isn't far behind.

This person is a Senator and a doctor. Astonishing.


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