U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled a five-point plan for ending the AIDS pandemic, just as World AIDS day is coming up this Saturday. Clinton said, "Make no mistake about it, HIV may well be with us into the future, but the disease that it causes need not be." She went on to say that advances in science and technology have now made it possible for the next generation to be AIDS free.
Clinton's five points focus around:
1. Treatment and prevention interventions.
2. Targeting populations at greatest risk and who suffer most from stigma.
3. Promote sustainability and effectiveness
4. Encourage affected countries to step up efforts to protect and help their own communities and urge donors to meet their funding commitments.
5. Support research into new scientific advances.
While it's a nice thought on the part of Secretary Clinton to say that the next generation has the possibility to be AIDS free, unfortunately she has missed a big part of the puzzle: comprehensive sex education in schools.
The delusional thinking is that providing comprehensive sex education in schools is an endorsement of sexual activity. So instead, in the richest country in the world, we are forced to learn about sex on the streets. Here's objective reality: whether you like it or not, teenagers are going to have sex. They always have and always will.
According to America's Center for Disease Control, 47 percent of high school students are sexually active. And these are only the kids who admit it. The average teenager has been exposed to more sexually explicit movies, games, magazines and other materials than older generations have in our entire lives. As much as some Americans would like to hold on, the days of Ozzie and Harriet are over.
Teenagers are bombarded by sex; what they are lacking is sex education. They're learning lovemaking through porn. Are we too emotionally immature to educate our kids about one of the most beautiful parts of life?
Only 21 states require their public schools to teach sex education, which is an embarrassment for a country that claims to be progressive. Our public school system is still debating whether or not providing condoms in school promotes sexual promiscuity. Condoms don't promote promiscuity -- hormones promote promiscuity! Giving students access to condoms doesn't increase their odds of having sex, it just increases the odds that they'll have safe sex.
I remember sneaking into a drug store when I was in high school to buy condoms. It was a painful experience because like most Americans, I was programmed in church to be ashamed of my sexual desires. Critical thinking says it's time to pass legislation that mandates comprehensive sex education in all of our public schools.
According to AIDS.gov, in the United States alone, 1.7 million people are estimated to have been infected with HIV, including over 619,000 who have already died and approximately 1.2 million (1,178,350) adults and adolescents who were living with HIV infection at the end of 2008, the most recent year for which national prevalence estimates are available. What's even scarier is that one in five people living with HIV are unaware of their infection.
Secretary Clinton is correct that we must take a stronger stance against HIV and AIDS and continue doing everything we can to combat this deadly disease. Indeed, it will be a great day when America and the world is Aids free. And while there are other ways the disease is passed from one person to the next, HIV is transmitted mostly through semen and vaginal fluids during unprotected sex without the use of condoms. Therefore, critical thinking tells us it's time to introduce comprehensive sexual education in schools, and make it required learning for all students along with English, math and history.