Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Online Story: Don't fan flames of lust. There's a link between AIDS and 'Crazy Horse' show
by Ho Ting Fei (Dr)

And I thought medical doctors were supposed to be better educated and trained than this? I mean, even granting the constrains of an ST letter, surely this could have been better argued?

In The Straits Times' reports on August 17, there were simultaneous reports of "sex infections on the rise among teenagers" and "R18 rating for cabarets".

This is a bad coincidence but a good opportunity for us to examine the reasons behind why HIV AIDS is on the increase in Singapore.

*Snort* first he acknowledges it is a bad coincidence and then he uses that purported link to demonstrate a non-sequitor. See below.
More disturbingly, it is on the rise in young people. There are various reasons for this phenomenon and some are obvious. The public has, at various times, expressed its opinion and cautioned about the decline of moral standards in society.

There are indeed various reasons for this, but what is this nebulous "decline of moral standards" that he claims and more importantly, how is it necessarily true that it (whatever it is) can be shown to be the major causal link for a rise in AIDS. Especially when there are much better arguments and fingers to point at.

The rise in the number of infections is due to a lot of reasons. Strip away things like an increase in the population, globalisation and easy travel making sure the virus spreads, more ready access to doctors and healthcare, better diagnostic equipment and thus more and earlier diagnosis. And can we really be certain that there is any statistically signicant increase left to deal with, much less attribute to a "decline in moral standards"?

Minister Dr Balaji Sadasivan has revealed the statistics and voiced his concerns about HIV infection in Singapore.

I am sure he and other healthcare personnel realise that if HIV infection is allowed to break through the barriers to affect the people, it will be out of control one day.

Which is why I'm so glad I don't live in a country like South Africa where the the President denies the HIV-AIDS link and the Minister for Health thinks prefers traditional and natural cures (that do nothing by the way) to the "poisons" of Antiretroviral drugs (that by the way really do work wonders i.e. from bedridden to climbing mountains).

The race to develop medical treatment may not catch up with the wild spread of HIV. Even if there is a cure for AIDS, prevention will generally remain a more efficient and cost-effective means of controlling the disease.

HIV AIDS is a social problem as much as it is a medical problem. If we are honest and truthful to ourselves, we cannot fail to see why AIDS and the "Crazy Horse" show are not so distant and unconnected, and why by giving more Singaporeans, especially youths, the chance to see the "Crazy Horse" revue is not as innocuous as it seems to be.

This is a terribly disappointing line of argumentation. It's full of insinuation and massively light on substantiation. An appeal to common sense tends to fail because common sense often isn't. Sometimes a counter-intuitive approach is necessary. And besides, it's been demonstrated that abstinence and pro-abstinence education policies don't work even if and especially if one looks at cross-State data in the USA with regards to STD and unwanted pregnancy rates.

Anyway. Hello?! Age of consent is 16 and prostitution is legal in Singapore! And you've picked Crazy Horse?! Only if you have a preexisting mindset that tries to deny reality and believes that the way to prevention is abstinence (much easier to believe in peace in the Middle East)

To me the introduction of the new R18 (Cabaret) rating is not just an act of bad taste but more a case of irresponsibility towards the youths and our population in general.

Let us not fan the flames of lust and temptation, particularly in our youths, and yet watch in desperation and despair at the raging fires of HIV infection.

Then teach them to handle it?! Education is always better than moralising and piety. Mind you, you're an adult at 18 and can be sentenced to death as an adult for a capital crime. You serve NS and can kill on orders, get killed on orders. You can smoke, drink, drive and skydive and do a lot of other things that could get you horribly killed or injured.

This last two paragraphs show exactly where the prudish, moralising doctor stands. I simply say this. Less prudishness, less moralising, more reality and more education. That's the key to keeping HIV in check.


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