Monday, August 28, 2006

"Wrap It Up" Has Failed The Black Community

A few years ago in response to the rapid outbreak of AIDS in the "young urban" community an effort was mobilized to inform our young people of the risk of HIV/AIDS. The theory going into this movement was that these young people are going to have sex any way. A "just say no" type of program - "abstinence" is out of the question and too ideologically against that which those who were running this campaign knew to be the case with respect to these young people's behavior.

The goal was to find an appropriate campaign that put forth the awareness of the risks in infection from HIV/AIDS while being "behavior neutral" beyond the act of putting on a condom. The "Big Condom Industrial Complex" could not have asked for more.

The theory was that if the campaign could attract popular entertainers and athletes of the day to put forth the message to wear a condom or "wrap it up" prior to having sex then the bond that these people have with our impressionable youth would have them to express more consciousness about the risks prior to engaging in sexual behavior.

The popular mandate of "No Judgmentalism" required that no pronouncements be made about who, how many nor the context in which sexual engagements took place, just that a prophylactic barrier be placed between you and your sex partner. Everyone is happy. Trade a micrometer of muted tactile stimulation that allowed you to "keep your own body fluids to yourself" in exchange for an AIDS free life.

Years later we see that "Wrap It Up" has failed. The HIV infection rate is pandemic within the Black communities. Metropolitan areas with high rates of African Americans are also blinking red on the AIDs warning map. Baltimore, Washington DC, Atlanta, New York City - all are infection hot spots.

When the community activists are given voice to speak about the issue typically the first thing they run to is the "race card". You might hear them say "if this rate of HIV infection was present among White women a national alarm would be sounded". This tried and true technique of racial shaming toward the government to have it step in to rescue their failed agenda invites the government in to the same bedrooms that they were once told to stay out of.

When it comes to war and petroleum we so often hear the charge that "our leaders have failed to ask us to SACRIFICE during our emergency". Somehow this same philosophy of sacrifice, denying yourself from your selfish desires for the sake of a greater good was not included in the planning of "Wrap It Up".

It is clear that "Wrap It Up" has failed. If the measure of its success is the change downward in the growth rate of HIV and STDs then it could be argued that while "Wrap It Up" was promoted the HIV rate grew and thus the philosophy that was void of "sacrifice" encouraged the actions that lead to the exchange of body fluid via sexual intercourse.

I am no prude. I am a normal heterosexual male who prior to marriage let off a sigh of relief upon "passing" an AIDS test. In the world of 2006 where there are more potential sex partners who are infected the risk of engaging in the exchange of body fluid has a greater chance of having deadly consequences.

Any plan that does not expose a greater future and the young person's role in it is doomed to fail. While standing at the fork in the road (or several steps prior to reaching it) some value equation must be cauterized into their minds. "Is it worth the risk?". "Do I know about this person's 'body fluid' enough to go through with this?". "Am I able to deal with all of the possible outcomes from my actions?". A comprehensive program that fails to have the operator consider all of these options and even consider the "Pre-Super Bowl" Janet Jackson line of "Let's Wait A While" is a program that is destined for failure. "Wrap It Up" is not the program to reduce HIV infection rates in the Black community as the evidence clearly shows.