My wife and I were amused at this initial response to telling my daughter’s boyfriend that she has strep throat and mononucleosis. It is high school football season and with the playoffs looming, we were not going to have their high school lose a star player over “loose lips.” A natural reaction, someone is sick so we limit our unhealthful interactions with them. As it takes a teenager four weeks or so to have the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) run its course in their system, no sports, dance or sweetheart fraternization is allowed for our daughter. To ignore this infestation and allow athletic activities risks rupturing her spleen. Risking the spread of this virus to another teen is just as unethical to us as parents.
With the notable exception of parents dosing their child with cold medications and still sending to school, we naturally isolate our interactions for serious diseases in the US. Children stay home each year until the mumps or chicken pox outbreak is past a stage of infection. We make sure these children do not interact with grandparents until we assess the risk to an adult who may not have had these diseases as kids. People wanted no risk of being confined traveling on planes with those potentially carrying the Ebola virus. Until the advent of antibiotics, biblical restrictions on interactions with lepers were common and based on minimizing the spread of this disease.
Not so with HIV AIDS. Our natural response of resisting interactions to spread a disease is abandoned in light of political correctness. Here forces in society promote continued sexual interactions. Rather than promote restraint to minimize infection, millions of dollars are spent in sending condoms to Africa to “fight the spread” of HIV AIDS. Of course, sending condoms does not technically advocate sexual promiscuity. Nor does giving a child a free chocolate technically promote obesity or tooth decay…
In 2009, Pope Benedict told the world that “condoms are not the answer to Africa’s fight against HIV.”(AP, March 18, 2009) At the time this comment caused quite a stir in the media. How dare the Pope speak to an issue of human suffering with “outdated” religious dogma! Such backlash, no thought. Was not the Pope’s response asking those infected to minimize their risk of infection as if they had any other common disease? Condoms do provide a “latex” isolation; however, the FDA confirms they only reduce the risk of infection. The FDA also confirms our common sense and natural response – “the most effective way to avoid getting an STI (sexually transmitted infection) is to not have sex.” This is not only true for HIV AIDS but for chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, and syphilis as well.
This is not a call for quarantines but a return to common sense. Since His creation, man has known to limit interactions with diseases to avoid further contamination. Requiring social responsibility of those infected to limit their exposing of others is not a restriction on their rights but a call for common decency. We isolate ourselves from the virus, not the person. It is wrong to send your child to school with a cold? Of course it is, but many parents still do. “No one will die” is the thought I guess. These same parents though would surely never send them to school with peanuts anymore. That may actually kill 1.4% of the population but, only if they actually ingest the peanuts. Casual contact is not fatal. Neither is it often fatal with the common cold. Yet ethically, is there really a difference?
Whether intended or not, Pope Benedict spoke to the justice of the African society as he does to ours today. Regardless if it is the common cold or something more serious, justice is a shared commodity. If you are sick, get healed: spiritually, physically and mentally. Yet, at the same time, isolate yourself from spreading the disease further to others. This is not an issue of freedom, but responsibility.