Maybe condom commercials-with a nod to abstinence thrown in to pacify critics-are the realistic best we can offer vulnerable young people growing up amid such hazards today. What's not true are the flat-out claims that "latex condoms can protect you," and "a latex condom. The cost has been considerable-in births to single mothers and the consequent increase in welfare and dysfunctional families, in the horrendous increase in all types of sexually transmitted diseases including AIDS, in the trivializing of sex and in the frequent substitution of sex for love and commitment. The voice-over says, "It would be nice if latex condoms were automatic. They may not sell condoms as much as casual sex.
But it doesn't eliminate the risk absolutely, as the record of condom failures in preventing pregnancy should warn. They aren't aimed at the groups at highest risk for AIDS infection. But since they're not, using them should be. Condoms will prevent most transmission of HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases. Never mind truth in advertising. The voice-over says, "It would be nice if latex condoms were automatic. The gun won't go off every time. Surely it is irresponsible of the government-criminally irresponsible-to promise sexually active people that condoms will keep them safe from AIDS. Those animated condoms beginning to show up on TV may make slick advertising. They are ranked as one of the least effective contraceptives. Condoms are better than no protection at all. But such a high level of sexual activity among the young hasn't always been true in this country, where the age at which people begin having sex has been constantly dropping and where out-of-wedlock births to young women have been increasing for years. What's not true are the flat-out claims that "latex condoms can protect you," and "a latex condom. Apparently, those responsible for the new commercials and radio spots figure that condoms will save lives if sexually active people are persuaded to use them. Our children come of age today in a sex-soaked society where the entertainment media, peers, even the government itself, is telling them that premarital sex is inevitable at an increasingly young age. It's easier to sell "safe sex" than "safer sex," they must assume. They will save lives. The frank and clever commercials may let the Clinton administration claim credit for doing more about AIDS. So is a heterosexual, monogamous relationship in which neither partner is infected with HIV and neither injects illegal drugs or has a transfusion with infected blood. Maybe condom commercials-with a nod to abstinence thrown in to pacify critics-are the realistic best we can offer vulnerable young people growing up amid such hazards today. And the harm such a message can do, especially when sponsored by the U. Some of the new commercials have an appealing, light, Madison-Avenue-at-its-best charm. Plenty of statistics back them up. And critics who say they may do less good than harm may well be right. They may not sell condoms as much as casual sex. The message they intend to give isn't necessarily the message many who see them will get.
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