Sunday, May 03, 2009

Comparing swine flu with AIDS

Recently the world has been panicked by the swine flu. It is starting to appear in more countries from its origin in Mexico. People get flu-like symptoms but most of the time it's not that serious. Around the world less than a couple of dozen people have died. Let us pray for the repose of their souls. But there is almost hysteria about the disease, even though thousands of people die every year from the usual influenza. But let's compare this situation with the AIDS crisis and Pope Benedict's recent comments about condoms.

Pope Benedict said condoms are not the answer to the AIDS problem. People reacted furiously, basically between the lines saying they would never sacrifice any of their sexual behaviours in order to reduce a disease. I guess Pope Benedict just cares too much and would rather people live than be promiscuous. But how does this compare to the swine flu? Well, just say the swine flu is extremely contagious and somebody is a known carrier of it. Imagine you wanted to see this person daily, but then the doctor told you that being in direct contact with this person and touching them and sharing drinks could give you a deadly disease. He says you can be near that person, you can talk to that person, but you cannot touch that person or share drinks, etc. You would obviously agree. Do you think it would be responsible for the doctor to say, "This person is extremely ill and his disease very contagious. I do not suggest you touch or share drinks with this person, EXCEPT once every 2 weeks. Every second Friday, you can touch that person, feel them, share drinks with them, or anything else you want. There is a good chance you'll get the disease after this, but in case you don't, you can always do that again two weeks later.

This would be extremely misguided and dangerous. You would be shocked that he would suggest putting yourself at risk. Then first doctor said, I do not htink you should ever touch this person or share drinks until their disease is gone and you are in a committed relationship and you are certain he has not contracted it from elsewhere. This would of course sound more reasonable. Now imagine if your family found out about both doctors and they were infuriated by the doctor who siad you should avoid all contact. They say, that is not possible! Every now and then you MUST put yourself at risk!! Then they go so far as to say the doctor who advised 100% protection was irresponsible and that lives would be lost because of his policies.

This is exactly what happened with Pope Benedict. He is the doctor who said to avoid all contact until there is commitment and no risk of contamination from other sources. Condoms have an effectiveness rating. Some say it is between 90 and 98% effective. No one claims it is 100% effective, under any circumstances. If it is 90% effective, then the example above would be saying you can touch the person once every 10 days, etc.

As you can see from this example, only the Pope's advice is worth following.

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