Tuesday, August 30, 2005

When Ignorance Kills - Sex and Politics

by Kyle Michaelis
Far too little has been said about the scourge of sexually transmitted diseases in Omaha that has undoubtedly spread throughout Nebraska. We should all be ashamed of ourselves for allowing public policy to be dictated by religious fanatics who would rather see young people suffer and die for their supposed sins rather than educating them about safe sex and healthy choices - emotional, mental, physical, and - yes - spiritual, if that's your cup of tea.

At least, it seems some brave souls in Douglas County are trying to do something to beat back this ignorance-inspired onslaught of preventable pestilence. The Omaha World-Herald reports:
Local health officials want young people in the community to talk about sexually transmitted diseases and become educated about their effects.

The officials also want teens and twentysomethings - groups in Douglas County that have seen epidemic rates of STDs in recent years - to get tested and treated for the diseases.

Two governments and a community group have come together to help fund that testing and treatment.

Douglas County included $40,000 in the budget it passed last month for STD testing and treatment, said Chris Rodgers, Douglas County Board member.

Since then, the City of Omaha has pledged $10,000 and the United Way of the Midlands has offered $25,000, Rodgers said.

Representatives of the groups gathered today outside the Charles Drew Health Center to announce the new funding and to spread the word about the need for STD testing and treatment.

In the past year, 1,000 young people turned to the Health Center at 2915 Grant St. for STD testing, said Dr. Richard Brown, Charles Drew's chief executive officer. Forty percent of those people were infected with an STD, he said.

The $75,000 in new funding will be used in part to support a Charles Drew program that notifies the sexual partners of those with STDs about the infections, Brown said.

"It is real. It is here," Brown said of STDs in Omaha and Douglas County. "The only weapon we have is education, information and intelligence."

The Douglas County Board of Health declared an epidemic of gonorrhea and chlamydia in the county in March 2004, said Dr. Adi Pour, director of the Douglas County Health Department.

In 2003, the latest year for which data are available, 522 people out of every 100,000 Douglas County residents had chlamydia, Pour said. In addition, 245 people out of every 100,000 people in the county had gonorrhea, she said.

The national rates were 304 people per 100,000 people for chlamydia and 116 per 100,000 people for gonorrhea.

Seventy-five percent of those infected in Douglas County were between 15 and 29, Pour said.

County health officials hope to have reduced the occurrence of each disease by 15 percent by 2010, she said.

This funding goes to testing and treatment - both of which are incredibly important - but we are failing our children and failing ourselves so long as we fail to make comprehensive sex education one of our very highest priorities. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially when it's being measured in human lives.

The Republican Party is imposing ignorance here in Nebraska and across the country, and no one is willing to stand-up to them on it. They don't care that their method of "education" doesn't work. All they care about is fulfilling an agenda that leaves young adults like innocent lambs before the slaughter in matters of their own sexuality.

It doesn't work. It's not education - JUST SAY NO to Abstinence-Only!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for pointing this out. thank the lord for the charles drew clinic.

Blogger Roger Snowden said...

Your comment, "The Republican Party is imposing ignorance here in Nebraska and across the country, and no one is willing to stand-up to them on it." left me laughing.

I am wondering how it is possible to "impose ignorance". Remember the Jessica Lange movie "Francis"? She was forced to undergo a lobotomy. At that time in history, lobotomies were thought to be a miracle cure for many forms of mental illness.

I guess you could describe a lobotomy as a way of imposing ignorance. But then, that would be a celebration of "...having medicine trump ideology", to quote the linked article.

Further, the article and it's related article on "How well do condoms work against STDs?" make it quite clear condoms are hardly a good solution for STD prevention. And condoms are presented as the only solution available.

Not true at all. Abstinence is demonstrably 100% effective.

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