ONCE you would get a complimentary Bible in each hotel room, placed there by the Gideons.
Today you get complimentary condoms. Pull out the top drawer and a varying assortment of the latexes with varying names for both men and women greet you. They might miss out soap and “T” rolls sometimes but condoms they do not forget in the toilets.
Some office front offices stock them in a box where once you might have found contribution boxes for the poor or another just cause.
The drive in the HIV/AIDS awareness to have the use of condoms as a preventive measure has been an outstanding success in its reach but not, we submit, in its effectiveness to prevent the spread of the virus.
The condom has reached into the farthest village and the highest office.
Just how effective it has been in its primary task – that of preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS is uncertain. It cannot be known until and unless proper research is done. We urge that be done at the earliest opportunity. Until then we are left with just conjecture.
One such conjecture is the effect the condom has on the sanctity of the institution of the family and its foundation, marriage.
The condom, rather than contain the rampaging march of HIV and AIDS, seems to be promoting promiscuity.
HIV and AIDS rampage on. Each annual report announces an increase in the rate of infection and incidences of full blown AIDS, never a decrease.
The campaign has unwittingly and quite inadvertently achieved what should have been its greatest ally: the removal of fear.
Fear would have put the brakes on for people. The condom has instead helped removes the fear element in people. Other aspects of the campaign so far seem to be promoting safe sex rather than preventing it. Have sex with one partner only, the campaign says, but if you must keep many partners then use a condom.
It is quite safe to kiss and to hug and to hold hands, the campaign states, without alerting people to the danger that should the infected person have sores in the mouth or on the body and should the healthy person also have a cut and those parts were to come into contact, there would be a definite transmission of the virus. Papua New Guineans are a loving people and often have bear hugs and cuddle each other. We do have a lot of sores so this neglect is quite a serious oversight that requires correction.
The HIV and AIDS law, like the campaign message, is very heavily tilted in favour of the HIV carrier and the AIDS sufferer.
It is heavy on discrimination but does not place too much of an emphasis on the behaviour of the carrier and sufferer when it is them that are a walking death sentence and unless they act responsibility, they are most likely to issue the sentence to all they come into contact with. You see, the HIV carrier and AIDS sufferer has no need to wear a condom. They need no further protection. It is the innocent victim who needs protection.
In Christian PNG, the HIV and AIDS message has been astoundingly successful in one other respect. It has completely removed the family and marriage from the campaign. If this was a covert exercise by the enemies of the family, say the gay and lesbian fraternity, to destroy the family they have been quite successful in so far as removing its importance in the HIV and AIDS campaign is concerned.
You hardly ever hear about remaining faithful to one husband or wife or spouse. It is always “the partner”, whether sexual or otherwise.
They might come out tomorrow and talk about “partner” being gender neutral but the truth is that in PNG we are family people. The minute the family is made the centre of this message, we will start to get to the heart of the problem.
Sex is the primary source of infection at the present time. Sex in the family context is quite clear. It is to be enjoyed by a man and his wife for both enjoyment and procreation, a role that has its basis in the Bible itself. In Christian belief and practice and even in traditional societies, sex outside marriage was taboo.
When we leave the bounds of sex within marriage, we enter dangerous waters. And this is what condoms, for all the campaign’s good intentions, are doing. They are taking sex outside into the club houses and the hotels and into the drains and behind bushes for a “quickie”, as it is commonly referred to.
It denigrates sex and all that it stands for. It cheapens it and makes it a thing to be had whenever the desire comes upon one.
It is time the campaign is revised for its ineffectiveness so far in stemming the rising tide of HIV and AIDS and for all the other social and familial consequences it has wrought.