How to Avoid AIDS
MANY government and private agencies have educational campaigns to help people learn how to avoid AIDS. However, what is often missing in such advice is any moral consideration. Rarely is any appeal made to avoid a practice because it is morally wrong.
Regarding this, TV commentator Ted Koppel said to a university graduating class: “We have actually convinced ourselves that slogans will save us. Shoot up [drugs] if you must, but use a clean needle. Enjoy sex whenever and with whomever you wish, but wear a condom. No! The answer is no. Not because it isn’t cool or smart or because you might end up in jail or dying in an AIDS ward, but no because it’s wrong, because we have spent 5,000 years as a race of rational human beings . . . searching for truth and moral absolutes. In its purest form, truth is not a polite tap on the shoulder. It is a howling reproach. What Moses brought down from Mount Sinai were not the Ten Suggestions.”
The Way to Avoid AIDS
The AIDS plague could have been avoided. As The New York Times Magazine said: “It is the first plague in the history of mankind whose regulation is entirely dependent upon our knowing behavior.”
To avoid AIDS, a cardinal rule must be: Live a moral life. This means no sexual relations outside of marriage and no illicit drug use. Yes, there must be a change in behavior patterns, for, as Science News reported, “it is obvious that it is behavior that transmits the virus that causes AIDS.”
Very few who live moral lives get AIDS. True, one marriage mate may be moral, but the other mate may be immoral and infected with AIDS and may thus pass on the disease to the innocent mate. Of course, an innocent mate who suspects the other of immorality or drug abuse has the right to take protective steps. The innocent are not required, as it were, to commit suicide.
The Tokyo newspaper Asahi Shimbun quotes health officials as saying: “If you are leading an ordinary life, you will not contract the disease. So there is no reason to be inordinately worried about the disease. But if you want to ‘fool around,’ do so at your own risk, the risk of committing suicide.” Shoko Nagaya of the health ministry advised: “Know your partner.”
Is it really possible, however, to “know your partner” in this permissive world that has winked at immorality? How can you be certain that your partner has not been sexually immoral or has not abused drugs and thus been exposed to AIDS?
What is needed is education that moves people to hate what is morally wrong. And regardless of today’s permissive views, sex outside of marriage is immoral, as is illicit drug use. These practices can lead to sickness and premature death.
In one country, 93 percent of 18- and 19-year-old men and women interviewed had engaged in immoral sex relations. Only 25 percent of the men and 20 percent of the women said that they had ever used a condom—the medical device recommended by some medical officials as an AIDS preventive. In another land, a study revealed that after being diagnosed as AIDS-positive, homosexual men merely cut the number of partners in six months from 12 to 5. More of them feel secure because of increased condom use.
But is condom use a guarantee? Various health officials estimate the failure rate for condoms at from 2 to 10 percent or more, with natural membrane condoms being much less effective than those made from latex. The Financial Post of Canada reports: “Jack Layton, chairman of Toronto Board of Health, says prophylactics [condoms] have a failure rate of up to 30% in preventing pregnancy.”
Beth Aub, writing in The Daily Gleaner of Jamaica, says: “The condom is not any more safe today than it ever was. In fact, it is less so, as the AIDS virus is much smaller than the human sperm and it will, therefore, be that much easier to slip through, and while the female can only become pregnant on a few days of each month she is exposed to AIDS whenever she has sex with an infected male. The condom is not safe.” And Surgeon General Koop warns that condoms have “extraordinarily high” failure rates when used by homosexuals.
Thus, these devices are no guarantee against getting AIDS. Instead, living by the Bible’s high moral standards is the very best protection.
Is the Blood Supply Safe?
Until testing of blood began in 1985, thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands when including Africa) of people got AIDS from contaminated blood. In some places the number is still large. A report this year from Africa states: “Nearly one in 15 Central African children receiving blood transfusions to combat malaria-related anemia may become infected with the AIDS virus as a result, a new study has found. Transfusions are now the No. 2 source of AIDS transmission in the region.”
In Western countries it is claimed that the blood supply is now virtually safe. But how safe? In the usual tests for AIDS, it is the antibodies that reveal the presence of the virus. But, as The Economist states, “the antibodies picked up in the test take time to appear.” People donating blood can have the AIDS virus but may not yet have developed the antibodies. So although declared AIDS free, they have the virus and can pass it on when their blood is used in transfusions. And the New York Blood Center estimates that about 90 percent who receive transfusions of even a single unit of AIDS-infected blood will become infected with the AIDS virus.
Dr. Harvey Klein of the U.S. National Institutes of Health says that it may take six weeks to three months for antibodies to appear. During that time, a newly infected person’s blood may not have antibodies, or not enough of them, to show up in testing.
The Medical Post of Canada states: “Antibodies, detectable by current screening tests, can take as long as six months to develop.” A U.S. National Cancer Institute study showed that some individuals do not develop testable antibodies until 14 months after infection with the AIDS virus. Still newer findings reported by The Lancet, a British medical journal, reveal that the AIDS virus may multiply in someone even longer before becoming evident in tests. Though there are efforts to develop tests that can detect the virus even before antibodies appear, these are only at an early stage.
A medical report by specialists at Mainz University in the Federal Republic of Germany states: “Transfusion medicine has to accept the fact that absolutely HIV-free blood no longer exists.”
Other Blood Diseases
Making the matter worse is the fact that diseases other than AIDS are far more commonly passed on by blood transfusions. Dr. Klein states: “AIDS has gotten all the publicity. But over the last 25 years, really the most important problem in blood transfusion is post-transfusion hepatitis. And even today, the major cause of death related to blood transfusion is post-transfusion hepatitis.”
One form of this disease is called non-A/non-B hepatitis. In the United States, over 190,000 people contract it in blood transfusions every year. Of these, some 10,000 are killed or permanently injured. The virus has not yet been clearly identified, and there is no sure test for it at this time.
Thus, the French medical daily Le Quotidien du Médecin states: “Maybe Jehovah’s Witnesses are right in refusing the use of blood products, for it is true that an important number of pathogenic agents can be transmitted by transfused blood.”
You Have a Choice
Each individual must make a choice in this matter. If the choice is to continue immoral relationships or illegal drug use, then one must face the consequences: the reaping of harm for the sowing of moral wrong.
But who is to establish proper moral values? Well, who knows our makeup best and what the consequences are for violating such moral standards? Surely, the Creator of humans does. And in his inspired Word, the Bible, he plainly states: “God is not one to be mocked. For whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap; because he who is sowing with a view to his flesh will reap corruption from his flesh.”—Galatians 6:7, 8.
There is no question that man’s Creator has determined that homosexuality, fornication, and adultery are moral wrongs, as is illicit drug use. His Word tells us: “Do not be misled. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men” can expect God’s approval.—1 Corinthians 6:9; see also 2 Corinthians 7:1.
The Bible warns: “Keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication.” (Acts 15:29) The Greek word used here for “fornication” includes every kind of sexual intercourse other than between a man and his wife. And did you notice that this command includes avoiding the use of blood?
The continuing words of that scripture apply today with even greater force. It states: “If you carefully keep yourselves from these things, you will prosper. Good health to you!” Consider how many have died and will yet die from AIDS because of immoral sexual activity and drugs, as well as the thousands (in Africa possibly hundreds of thousands) from contaminated blood. Consider, too, the hundreds of millions whose health is being damaged by other sexually transmitted diseases, as well as by other complications of blood transfusions and by drug abuse.
When these are added together, it makes up a huge toll in poor health and untimely death. In view of the consequences, we can see the wisdom of the Creator’s prohibition of these practices.
Professor Vicente Amato Neto, Brazilian expert on infectious diseases, says: “I often say that the best prevention for AIDS is for one to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, for the members of that religion are neither homosexuals nor bisexuals, they are loyal to their marriage—they associate it with reproduction—don’t use drugs and, to complete the picture, they don’t accept blood transfusions.”
Toronto Life magazine states: “The only clear-cut answer to AIDS is celibacy leading to monogamy.” And Valentin Pokrovsky, president of the Soviet Union’s Academy of Medical Sciences, affirms: “Combating AIDS cannot be confined to medical efforts. A healthy way of life, purity of relations between the sexes and conjugal fidelity are the best means for AIDS prevention.”
Yes, accepting the Creator’s standards for human behavior is the best way to avoid AIDS.
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“What Moses brought down from Mount Sinai were not the Ten Suggestions”
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Blood transfusions have spread AIDS—and still do
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Chastity leading to marriage can prevent many heartaches, including AIDS