Monday, August 14, 2006

Playing Defense

Am I the only one who has a problem with this?

Bill Gates, who has contributed lots of money to AIDS research says that women are the "key to fighting AIDS." Great. Wow. A cure?

Nope. This is a prevention tactic. Following the example of scared African women, Gates believes women should have to take a pill or insert some foreign substance into their vagina (every day?) 'just in case' they're raped by someone with AIDS. Pills, gels, and creams are being researched for AIDS prevention.

"A woman could use one quietly, without having to ask her husband or partner to use a condom or to abstain from sex." says Reuters.

Should the research really move in this direction? Should the only resource for women be a 'quiet' use of gel inside of themselves so they don't have to stand up to the men they're with? I know. In sub-Saharan Africa, the female condom (which some women wear ALL THE TIME) has saved many from infection. But this is such a defensive reaction. And the fact that RESEARCH money is spent on this is astounding. Shouldn't we look for a cure?

Maybe I don't know enough about it. Maybe the money should be spent on other forms of RAPE prevention. Maybe we should get African women out of abusive relationships. I think the money could be spent on any of these things. Women should not have to be quiet about infection. We should help them and ourselves in other ways. And, as always, I believe it starts with education.

As Melinda Gates says in the article, "the ABC approach -- which stands for Abstinence, Be faithful and use Condoms -- does not always work." Obviously. Don't even get me started on ABC idiocy. But though a gel or cream would be great for prostitutes, I do not think unhappily married or otherwise victimized women should have to add this stuff to their daily regimen.

Don't get me wrong. I'm happy we're on the road to prevention. But I don't think this is the answer. Find a cure, help correct the social situation in third world countries. Teach these women self-defense. There are tons of other options when there's Gates money to be had.

1 comment:

jmixont said...

Your point is well-taken. Why get things started off over there the way they got started here - with the woman always required to make the effort and think ahead?

I wonder, though, how much of it might have to do with their socio-econimic situation in comparison with ours.

Is our infrastructure better prepared to deal with all-out cures? Do the tens of times US and European scientists have essentially experimented on their populations in Kenya and Ethiopia make them distrustful of cures and vaccines (after all, many people suspect it was an Americans attempt to find a cure for polio who tested it on three villages in central Africa that may have brought AIDS on in the first place).

I'm not sure, here, just suggesting.