In my previous posts about wiping out AIDS I've asked whether or not it's time to consider drastic measures to curb the disease, and now it sounds like other scientists are asking the same questions.

Within the next 25 years, AIDS is set to join heart disease and stroke as the top three causes of death worldwide, according to a study published online Monday.

When global mortality projections were last calculated a decade ago, researchers had assumed the number of AIDS cases would be declining. Instead, it's on the rise. ...

"It will be increasingly hard to sustain treatment programs unless we can turn off the tap of new HIV infections," said Dr. Richard Hays, professor of epidemiology at London's School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who was not linked to the study. "These AIDS numbers point to a need to do more in prevention."

Simply focusing on treatment or politically uncontroversial prevention methods will not suffice. "You can't put all your eggs in the abstinence basket," said Hays. "We need a menu of strategies for real people," he said, adding that condom distribution as well as new methods, such as a vaccine, are needed.

However, I think Hays is crazy if he really believes that promoting abstinence is "politically uncontroversial". In fact, advocating chastity and marital fidelity is nearly unthinkable for American politicians. Sure, a gesture is made to promote abstinence among teanagers, but even that suggestion is met with fierce hostility from all corners other than the Christian right. The idea that everyone should refrain from sex outside of marriage is anathema to modern American culture, no matter what percentage of us claims to be Christian.

And yet... it's hard to see any other way to stop the spread of AIDS unless a vaccine or cure is developed. Condoms have been pushed as the STD solution for decades, and yet the scourge of AIDS is still spreading like wildfire around the world.



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