Gamble Or Abstain!

ABSTINENCE [The sure way]

There has been great awareness campaign about HIV/AIDS for the past decades and It is believed that there is nothing really new about this particular ailment, the general Public is not aware of. Part of this awareness campaign is the preventive aspect of acquiring the Virus. Though this article is centered on abstinence, it is in no way in disagreement with the other ways of protection against   transmission  of the virus.

“Abstinence, being faithful, correct and consistent condom use are the only ways to successfully reach everyone when discussing HIV prevention. I believe that the abstinence message alone does not solve the AIDS epidemic”- a quote from the American actress, Ashley Judd. This true statement of fact is in total agreement to the former first lady to the United states and as well the 2008 Democratic party presidential aspirant, Hilary Clinton who said “there is a great deal of political pressure to only talk about abstinence and to deny support for condoms and education for using them. This policy will lead to the unnecessary deaths of many people”. This is also correct. You cannot live the lives of others or monitor their activities and actions. Preaching abstinence alone and preventing the other means of protection is far from the solution. But in as much as the use of condoms and other safe practices are not condemned, total abstinence is worth the greatest attention because it is a 100% sure way of prevention, therefore preaching it is aimed at encouraging those who are doing their best possible to abstain, and as well put more light on reasons to abstain for those who believe in it, but do not practice it.. Before we hit the nail on the head, let’s go through the ways of  transmission  of the virus from an infected person to one that is not infected.

 Transmission  occurs when secretions of affected persons come in contact with tissues such as those lining the vagina, anal area, mouth or eyes ( the mucus membranes) or with a break in the skin as such for a cut or puncture by a needles. These ways are possible via sexual contact, sharing of needles, and  transmission  from infected mothers to their new born during pregnancy, labor or breastfeeding. It could also be transmitted via blood transfusion. These following ways could be classified into two major classes. The controllable or avoidable ways of  transmission  and the Uncontrollable means of  transmission . The controllable or avoidable means are these methods of contacting the virus which can be controlled or totally avoided by the person involved. Note that this definition is specific to the person who is at risk. The uncontrollable means are the ones which cannot be controlled by the affected persons. Infected new born fall into the uncontrollable means as they cannot do anything about the situation. They fall out to be unfortunate victims and to a large extent, blood transfusion can be in this category. For this category or class of  transmission , abstinence cannot be preached since it was not the fault or carelessness of the affected persons.

In the controllable category, using of new needles each time you want to take drugs and dumping the old ones after using them; is a direct formula to preventing HIV infection via injection of needles. This reduces the risk to about 99.99%. If a person not only shares needles but uses them just once, he stands a great chance to be risk free, giving the control method a good efficacy. Nevertheless, 0.0001% is still a probability and we will see how probability counts in reality. Therefore, in order to really understand what abstinence is, focus would be placed on the two major controllable means (injection and sex), especially on sex.

In sexual means of  transmission , the break in condom cannot be totally avoided in a given formula. No matter the quality of condom, there are still chances it could break during sex. Some arguments stress out that the virus is smaller than the fiber of the condom and it can still get through, especially when the male genital is very huge, stretching the condom extremely well. Therefore, it gives the probability of 85%- 95% of HIV prevention for the males and 95%- 99% for the females if used correctly.

On the contrary, Abstinence is a straight 100% preventive measure; absolutely efficient and no slight chance no matter how negligible it may be. It is safer and easier to adopt. Remember that abstinence does not mean been a virgin forever but avoidance of more than one partner, and more concretely avoidance of pre- marital and extra- marital sex. Probability is the chance of an event to occur and no matter how insignificant the value is; it does not prevent the situation involved from existing. It is believed that the cru de chat syndrome (sterile females with immature sex organs resulting from the loss or deletion of a significant portion of the genetic material) occurs once in 5000 births. This does not mean cru de chat syndrome does not exist and you can understand that, a parent who has a sick child with such a syndrome would not be ready to listen to statistics from any doctor, because the reality still remains; his/her child is suffering from it irrespective of the slim chance of occurrence.

On a general note, abstinence is the sure way to avoid the controllable means of acquiring the virus. And from the following illustration below, we can justify this simple fact. The table below shows the estimated number of cases of AIDS amongst people by  transmission  category in the 50 states of the United States of America as of 2007.

Male- to- male sexual contact — 487,695

Injection drug use — 255,859

Male- to male sexual contact with injection – 71,242

High risk heterosexual contact – 176,157

Others (Hemophilia, blood transfusion, prenatal exposure and risk not reported or Identified) – 18,266.

[taken from ].

The first four ways are controllable means in which aside drug use, the rest are by sexual contact. These four means account for 990,953 cases out of 1,009,219, which is about 98.2% of all cases. Meanwhile 735,094 out of 1,009,219 cases are due to sexual  transmission  alone; accounting for 72.8% of all cases. Only about 1.8% of the total incidences are due to uncontrollable  transmission .

On normal grounds, occurrence of a situation caused by uncontrollable factors should be more, when compared to the same situation caused by the controllable ones. Another insight we can get from this statistic which is an extension of the first statement is; despite the control measures and protective means available, the controlled means are still far greater in occurrence than the uncontrolled ones. This justifies the fact that the only way this can be drastically reduced is through abstinence.

A teenage girl once said, “I have created an appetite for sex and I do not think I can stop it now”. The Human nature is such that, if you allow it take part in a pleasurable event more than once and continuously, it begins to yearn after that event due to its increased appetite. Charles DIkkens, a popular English Novelist of the Victoria era quotes “subdue your appetite, my dears and you’ve conquered human nature”. Human natured is meant to be conquered and in this way we can control ourselves- hence show great abstaining ability. If we do not conquer our human nature and allow our various tastes or appetite to explode, I think mutualism would not be a reality and a ‘jungle Life” scenario would be the possible resultant situation. If we can control our appetite or taste to any or all of the following; fashion, food, clothes, fame, drinks, sports est. why not sex? Is it normal to randomly have sex with different partners? As long as the Human nature could be stretched, it could also be tamed and the only way to do this is by abstinence.

Mr Anton Zakovich, a Russian economic lecturer said “Pre- marital sex is just like tasting soup while still cooking it. You taste the soup to know how spicy it is before it is finally cooked”. What if peradventure it burnt your tongue or distorts your taste buds? Would you be able to enjoy the soup later. Sex before marriage should not be compared to tasting soup, you taste the soup to know the quality for improvements by adding more ingredients if need be. But what sort of improvement do you need in pre- marital sex that you would not still accomplish when married. Marriage is a Life time commitment and the more the improvement in all factors at stake, the better the intimacy and possibility of becoming one. As for extra marital relationships, they are not only medically wrong, but as well morally and socially bad. If you think this Idea is too conservative, then think and take a look at the exposed extra-marital affairs of some celebrities such as Tiger Woods and John Terry, in relation to the general public and their fans. Then statistics will make you understand the ‘social- contempt’, extramarital affairs can stimulate.

Abstinence is not practiced, it is perfected. As we all have the ability to abstain. Dennis Wolfberg, the late American stand up comedian and actor, once quoted to confirm this statement. “I didn’t practice abstinence, I perfected it”. The major reason why abstinence becomes a difficulty is the fact that we kill this potential ability in us. And in some cases, it goes so bad to the extreme- addiction. The only way to sexual addiction is sexual exposure from an early age leading to continuous sexual activities as the child grows to his or her late teens and even older. This is also applicable to drug addiction.

According to SADD’s MISSION statistics of the year 2005, taken from around the entire states of the United States of America, 46.8% of all high school students report that they have sexual intercourse and 6.2% of high school students have had sexual intercourse for the first time before the age 13. Not only that, 14.3% of high school students nationwide have had sexual intercourse with four or more persons during their lives.

Talking about drugs, 9.9% of youth ages 12- 17 were illicit drug users; 6.8% use marijuana, 3.3% used prescription drugs for non medical uses, 1.2% used inhalants, 0.8% used hallucinogens and 0.6% used cocaine. Also, half of teens (50%) have tried an illicit drug by the time they finished high school. Though these statistics may have been taken years back, but surely it is appalling information and most probably parents and all stake holders involved (especially the school guidance and other parties) should put more careful attention to their children.

The best part of this statistics is the fact that youths ages 12- 17 who believed their parents would strongly disapprove of their using a particular substance were less likely to use that substance than were youths who believed their parents would somewhat disapprove of neither approve nor disapprove. SO, this have to do with home/ parental training which would not be discussed as it is outside the scope of the subject matter.

The point is, children of this present generation are sexually very active even from a very early age. And for this reason, they need adequate sex education with the sermon preached, not from a formal approach but rather done in adequate love, care and full attention. Taking advantage of the relationship to a great deal of understanding between the parent and the child would serve as the tool to achieving it. If this system is practiced there would definitely be an increase in the percentage of children who would adopt abstinence.

Now in general, consider this scenario. You want to go to the shopping mall by foot which is 5km from your home but there are 3 short routes about 2.5km each in which there is the probability of coming across wild dogs in one, been attacked by hoodlums in the other and as for the last- been hit by a car due to its busy nature (though, these incidences occur once in 2 months, but they continuously happen in that rate of occurrence). Would you still take the risk to follow one of the short routes? Some of us, knowing fully well the nature of events still follow one of these short routes and if unfortunate, get bitten by a dog (or some dogs) or been attacked or hit by a car. That is what majority of us do. The shorter time of going to the mall and back home should not be more of a priority to your Life and health. This is exactly the circumstance we face in Abstinence. It is a 100% route of safety but we prefer short- lived pleasure, which we would still enjoy later in Life or are enjoying with a legal partner.

All said and done, other preventive measures are never absolute and still give room or chances for the spread of the Virus to occur. If we can abstain why not give ourselves the 100% chance to be risk free from contracting the virus? There is great gain and full advantage when you abstain be it moral, mental, religious, and of course social. It also adds fun and spice to your marriage Life in the nearest future if you are single. Usually, you enjoy to the fullest, what you have been anticipating for a long time. Some people taste the soup two, three, four times and end up decreasing or even losing their appetite, therefore not enjoying the soup later when it is done. But when the soup is tabled for you to eat- fresh and new, you take it as though you could finish a drum of it and still ask for more.

On a final note, in as much as awareness on all the protective systems of avoiding the virus  transmission  is important; it is very necessary to stress the fact that Abstinence is the best and sure way and hence treat the best as the best. Do not gamble; abstain to sustain your Life.