SURGEON GENERAL: In Praise Of Honesty And Condoms
Dr. David Satcher spoke out yesterday at the 12th World AIDS Conference about the need to deal frankly with the realities of HIV transmission. "In a country where sex is happening everywhere -- movies, TV, everywhere you can imagine -- when it comes to addressing it, frankly, we have some way to go," he said. The AP/Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reports that Satcher emphasized the need to "deal with AIDS in a realistic way, not just stress the need for abstinence." Satcher criticized the recent "Republican-led" decision not to lift a ban on using federal funds for needle-exchange programs, and called for televised condom commercials (6/30). This last suggestion "brought swift condemnation from the religious right, which had opposed [Satcher's] confirmation to the high-profile post," the New York Daily News reports. Kristen Hansen of the Family Research Council said, "The federal government has no right to send sexual messages to teenagers through television -- bypassing families and parents."
Satcher noted that some 40,000 to 80,000 Americans become infected with HIV each year, most of whom are teens. According to Stephen Banspach, a researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four sexually active teens contracts an STD each year. A three-year study in Texas and California that Banspach helped conduct "showed safe-sex education increased the use of condoms among high school students without encouraging sexual activity" (Siemaszko, 6/30).
Get all the latest news from the World AIDS Conference in the Daily HIV/AIDS Report -- available free online at www.kff.org. Today's issue features the Rev. Jesse Jackson's CNN interview of AIDS czar Sandra Thurman and much more.