Gamble Or Abstain!

ABSTINENCE [The sure way]

There has been great awareness campaign about HIV/AIDS for the past decades and It is believed that there is nothing really new about this particular ailment, the general Public is not aware of. Part of this awareness campaign is the preventive aspect of acquiring the Virus. Though this article is centered on abstinence, it is in no way in disagreement with the other ways of protection against transmission of the virus.

“Abstinence, being faithful, correct and consistent condom use are the only ways to successfully reach everyone when discussing HIV prevention. I believe that the abstinence message alone does not solve the AIDS epidemic”- a quote from the American actress, Ashley Judd. This true statement of fact is in total agreement to the former first lady to the United states and as well the 2008 Democratic party presidential aspirant, Hilary Clinton who said “there is a great deal of political pressure to only talk about abstinence and to deny support for condoms and education for using them. This policy will lead to the unnecessary deaths of many people”. This is also correct. You cannot live the lives of others or monitor their activities and actions. Preaching abstinence alone and preventing the other means of protection is far from the solution. But in as much as the use of condoms and other safe practices are not condemned, total abstinence is worth the greatest attention because it is a 100% sure way of prevention, therefore preaching it is aimed at encouraging those who are doing their best possible to abstain, and as well put more light on reasons to abstain for those who believe in it, but do not practice it.. Before we hit the nail on the head, let’s go through the ways of transmission of the virus from an infected person to one that is not infected.

Transmission occurs when secretions of affected persons come in contact with tissues such as those lining the vagina, anal area, mouth or eyes ( the mucus membranes) or with a break in the skin as such for a cut or puncture by a needles. These ways are possible via sexual contact, sharing of needles, and transmission from infected mothers to their new born during pregnancy, labor or breastfeeding. It could also be transmitted via blood transfusion. These following ways could be classified into two major classes. The controllable or avoidable ways of transmission and the Uncontrollable means of transmission. The controllable or avoidable means are these methods of contacting the virus which can be controlled or totally avoided by the person involved. Note that this definition is specific to the person who is at risk. The uncontrollable means are the ones which cannot be controlled by the affected persons. Infected new born fall into the uncontrollable means as they cannot do anything about the situation. They fall out to be unfortunate victims and to a large extent, blood transfusion can be in this category. For this category or class of transmission, abstinence cannot be preached since it was not the fault or carelessness of the affected persons.

In the controllable category, using of new needles each time you want to take drugs and dumping the old ones after using them; is a direct formula to preventing HIV infection via injection of needles. This reduces the risk to about 99.99%. If a person not only shares needles but uses them just once, he stands a great chance to be risk free, giving the control method a good efficacy. Nevertheless, 0.0001% is still a probability and we will see how probability counts in reality. Therefore, in order to really understand what abstinence is, focus would be placed on the two major controllable means (injection and sex), especially on sex.

In sexual means of transmission, the break in condom cannot be totally avoided in a given formula. No matter the quality of condom, there are still chances it could break during sex. Some arguments stress out that the virus is smaller than the fiber of the condom and it can still get through, especially when the male genital is very huge, stretching the condom extremely well. Therefore, it gives the probability of 85%- 95% of HIV prevention for the males and 95%- 99% for the females if used correctly.

On the contrary, Abstinence is a straight 100% preventive measure; absolutely efficient and no slight chance no matter how negligible it may be. It is safer and easier to adopt. Remember that abstinence does not mean been a virgin forever but avoidance of more than one partner, and more concretely avoidance of pre- marital and extra- marital sex. Probability is the chance of an event to occur and no matter how insignificant the value is; it does not prevent the situation involved from existing. It is believed that the cru de chat syndrome (sterile females with immature sex organs resulting from the loss or deletion of a significant portion of the genetic material) occurs once in 5000 births. This does not mean cru de chat syndrome does not exist and you can understand that, a parent who has a sick child with such a syndrome would not be ready to listen to statistics from any doctor, because the reality still remains; his/her child is suffering from it irrespective of the slim chance of occurrence.

On a general note, abstinence is the sure way to avoid the controllable means of acquiring the virus. And from the following illustration below, we can justify this simple fact. The table below shows the estimated number of cases of AIDS amongst people by transmission category in the 50 states of the United States of America as of 2007.

Male- to- male sexual contact — 487,695

Injection drug use — 255,859

Male- to male sexual contact with injection – 71,242

High risk heterosexual contact – 176,157

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