Washington, D.C., Government-Sponsored Condom Distribution Program ‘Wrong,’ Columnist Says
"Thanks to the activists, who, for all practical purposes, reject any notion that abstaining from sex is the only surefire behavior to ward off HIV/AIDS and other consequences, condom-mania has taken [Washington, D.C.,] by storm," columnist Deborah Simmons writes in Washington Times opinion piece (Simmons, Washington Times, 12/5). Officials for the District -- which has the country's highest AIDS prevalence -- on Dec. 1 announced that they hope to install more than 50 condom dispensers in offices frequented by D.C. residents, including the D.C. Housing Authority and the departments of Human Services, Motor Vehicles and Public Works. Officials also plan to distribute 550,000 male condoms, 45,000 latex dental dams and 30,000 female condoms over the next 12 months. In addition, the city plans to expand a program through which it distributes free condoms at beauty salons, barber shops and nightclubs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/3). Although condom promotion "has its place," it is "wrong" for the government to operate the program because condom distribution programs "enabl[e] hedonists and those who indulge in bestiality to continue their immoral acts," Simmons concludes (Washington Times, 12/5).
Condom Program Deserves 'Praise,' Letter to the Editor Says
Although abstinence is the "only sure way to prevent HIV transmission," it is important to "acknowledge that humans are sexual beings and will continue to engage in sexual activity whether or not parents, religious leaders or peers tell them not to," Cornelius Baker, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Whitman-Walker Clinic, writes in a Times letter to the editor. In a city where one in 20 adults is thought to be HIV-positive, "every sexually active person should have access to condoms," Baker says, adding that the new D.C. program deserves "praise." Baker concludes that the answer to winning the war against HIV/AIDS is not to "take away one of the critical weapons we have to prevent infection" but to "face the fact that we are all sexual beings who need both information and the tools necessary to prevent HIV infection" (Baker, Washington Times, 12/11).