The Medical Establishment on Safe Sex

by Jay Johansen

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I had a fascinating conversation with a nurse recently. She said that she was working in her hospital and picked up a bag of medical waste. She felt a sharp pain in her finger, and looked down to see that there was a needle sticking out the side of the bag.

This was cause for serious concern. No one could be sure where that needle had been or what might be on it. The hospital quickly took a blood sample from the nurse and rushed it down to the lab.

The results indicated that she may have been infected with hepatitis.

The lab technician assured her that there was no cause for panic: this particular test often gave false "positives". (I suppose a test that gives false positives which can be checked out with futher tests, is better than a test which gives false negatives leading someone to not seek treatment that could have saved their lives.) They then sent a blood sample out to an outside, presumably better equipped, lab for further tests.

In the meantime, the lab tech gave her a list of precautions to take to avoid infecting anyone else if she did have the disease. One of these was: "no sex".

Lest you worry, when the results came back, it was a false positive. The nurse was not infected with hepatitis.

But then she became puzzled. She called the lab tech back and asked, "Why did you tell me 'no sex'? Why didn't you just tell me to be sure I used a condom?"

"Because that's hospital policy", she replied. "They're afraid that if they had told you it was safe as long as you used a condom, and then you had infected someone else, you could sue the hospital."

Interesting, isn't it? The medical establishment routinely tells the public that if they practice "safe sex", that is, use a condom, then there's nothing to worry about -- as long as all that's at stake is your life. But when their money is at stake, well, then they insist on a higher level of safety. You wouldn't expect them to risk their hard-earned money on something as fragile and unreliable as a little piece of rubber, would you?

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Posted 14 Sep 2000.

29 November 1996
Copyright 1996 by Ohio Right to Life
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