Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Don't forget your rubbers

Looks like DC is going to start offering free condoms all over town: in government buildings such as the DMV and the Housing Authority, in nightclubs, in barber shops and salons. This is the district's hearty response to statistics that show DC with the nation's highest incidence of AIDS.

Naturally, the usual characters are in a huff. The good-time gang down at the Heritage Foundation (with government-issue blinders firmly affixed and fingers plugged resolutely in ears) don't see what condoms have to do with preventing sexually transmitted diseases:
"I'm not aware of any evidence that that sort of activity has a positive effect," said Robert E. Rector, a family-issues researcher at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "The number-one determinant of whether a person will catch a sexually transmitted disease is the number of lifetime sexual partners. We seem to go out of our way as a government and a nation to avoid telling people that, but we hand out a lot of free condoms."

Yes, Robert E. Rector, it is probably true that if you only sleep with one person your whole life, your odds of getting a nasty case of syphillis are lower. And my Mom always told me that abstinence was the number-one determinent of not getting pregnant. But in the interest of crafting public policy that is not devised by plugging fingers in ears and saying "lalalalalala" really loud, I think that making it easy to put on a condom is a more practical initiative than convincing a city full of 20-somethings to stop having sex with people.

At Dream, a DC nightclub, 900 condoms were distributed over a 2-day period. [Yeah, I had to read that twice, too.] If Robert E. Rector wants to corral those folks in a room and waggle his finger at him, he's free to do so, but somehow I think those pesky STDs might find away to survive that brutal campaign.


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