Laura Bush Promotes Faith-Based "Snake Oil" For HIV genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood

Selling Snake Oil

Look, I generally like and respect Laura Bush...and while I would typically refrain from criticizing the First Lady...I have to call her on her latest remarks regarding the faith-based efforts being employed by the Bush administration in the African AIDS initiative. Here's what Laura Bush had to say:

"Religious institutions bring a personal healing touch to the fight against AIDS," Mrs. Bush said, adding that Zambian health caregivers "know very well the healing power of faith."

OK, this may sound callous but when was the last time a person, infected with the HIV virus, experienced a cure as a result of the healing power of faith? Further, the last time I checked, a healing touch does very little to lower a viral load or increase t-cell count...that requires expensive medications.

Now I'm sure the First Lady didn't mean her remarks literally, but it demonstrates the degree to which this administration will go to promote their failed faith-based abstinence well as the abject denial they demonstrate in the face of factual evidence that it isn't as effective as sex education and the distribution of condoms.

Canisius Banda, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health, said Zambia placed "great importance to the role of faith-based organizations in ... the fight against HIV and AIDS."

But he said such groups were not always supportive of certain aspects of the U.S.-backed prevention message that focuses on abstinence and faithfulness, along with condom use.

"They are weak on condom usage. They seem to have difficulty with that part of the message," he said. "They are very strong on abstinence as well as being faithful."

Again, this will sound shrill, but if one of the Bush children was infected with HIV, I doubt they would be focused on sending her to see a representative of a religious organization for a serving of "healing touch" and a dose of the "healing power of faith".

One last comment and I will stop. If the Bush family were to switch places with an African family, I doubt George and Laura would be content to tell the twins to abstain from sex (assuming they would have a say in such matters given African culture) and refuse to allow them to have condoms in order to protect themselves should they need to do so.

Faith is not science and abstinence is not the equivalent of contraception and access to antiretroviral medication. If god is watching as we sit in our ivory towers spending limited resources on…and lecturing impoverished Africans about…the power of faith and the need to abstain, I doubt he's preparing a hero's welcome for the pious purveyors of faith based snake oil.

Daniel DiRito | June 28, 2007 | 4:19 PM
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