2004 August 13

Life, disease, and condoms

You've probably heard about the CDC's alleged proposal to require that any organization that receives public funds must change all educational materials it releases to publicize the "lack of effectiveness of condom use".

Unfortunately, the "Condom Wars" column that warned of this particular shady trick on the part of the Bush Administration hinges on a serious misreading of the actual text of the proposed regulation change. The actual text requires "medically accurate information regarding the effectiveness or lack of effectiveness of condoms in preventing the sexually transmitted disease the materials are designed to address.".

As a result, the government has received a great deal of feedback decrying an anti-condom plot that wasn't in the guidelines. Meanwhile, it seems like very few people noticed the bits where they *do* recommend life-threatening distortions - specifically, the recommended sample lecture for high-school students starts off with a couple of paragraphs that imply that a mutually monogamous relationship is more effective than a condom and that whether or not a drug is legal makes more of a difference than whether or not one shares needles. While these inanities are contradicted later in the sample lecture, I can't see a curriculum that contradicts itself in the first three paragraphs being very effective.

You can submit comments via their webform at http://www.cdc.gov/nchstp/od/content_guidelines/comments.htm and email at hivcomments@cdc.gov.

They can also be reached by phone at 404-639-8040 and by snailmail at 1108 Corporate Square, Atlanta, GA 30329; however, I don't know if the phys/phone contacts take comments on specific issues or are just for general information. The comments deadline is the end of August 16th, 2004, so hurry if you're contacting 'em.

(Incidentally, and obnoxiously, they don't have the actual text of the guidelines up on their website - I had to dig through the Federal Register to get at them.)

Here, in case anyone cares, are my Official Comments as sent to their webform.

Upon review of the proposed revisions to to interim HIV content guidelines for AIDS-related materials, I have the following observations:

{ deekoo.net / polemicization }