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Pure As the Driven Slush (Personal Journal)
December 27th, Two Thousand Two: Around the holidays, many people take the time to write letters or make phone calls to keep up with their friends, family... and feds. I'm no exception. God forbid anyone should feel they're not getting the attention they deserve from me this time of year. You all know how I live to serve.



Dear Sirs,
I am writing to request information regarding your most recent changes to several government health websites, namely, the changes made at the National Cancer Institute site, which now state that it is inconclusive as to whether abortion is associated with breast cancer, as well as the changes made to the Centers for Disease Control website, which include removal of such highly documented information as:

• Information based on many studies which showed that comprehensive sex education about condom use did not lead to earlier or increased sexual activity, and in some cases delayed the onset of sexual intercourse, and

• Information based on longitudinal and globally diverse studies which showed that the overwhelming majority of people who used latex condoms correctly and consistently, even with multiple partners, did not become infected with the HIV virus, and that safer sex practices, tools and behaviors offered sound protection from STD and STI transmission, all of which you now state to be "inconclusive."

One would assume that such sweeping changes must clearly be based on new data culled from scientific studies which showed information counter to the existing data. For example, studies which have shown that there is a proven correlation between abortion and breast cancer, and that as well, given the abortion procedure, a correlation between breast cancer and miscarriage or aspiration/D&C procedures performed for purposes other than abortion. I would be highly interested in seeing these studies, especially considering how very little we presently know about ANY risk factors for breast cancer. This information could have great power in helping us unravel the mysteries of breast cancer, which kills nearly 50,000 women each year; information I have full faith you would not keep secreted away as your interest in women's health is clearly paramount. Actions such as the appointment of Dr. Hager (a Kentucky obstetrician who is a proponent of prescribing prayer and scripture to treat women's health conditions and who has made clear that his personal stance against reproductive choice will color his decisions), to Chair of the FDA's Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee, dismissing the gross opposition of such by women's rights groups to such a candidate, should prove clearly how little interest you have in compromising that commitment by putting religious agendas before our health.

Surely you also have sound information based on scientific data from long-term studies done with sizable groups of men and women worldwide, who have been regularly and comprehensively STD/STI tested, and who have abstained fully from ALL sexual activities for at least as long as those who used latex condoms and safer sex practices in preexisting studies did. Surely you have these to prove that rates of STD and STI are drastically lower in these groups than those using condoms and safer sex practices properly which you can share. In addition, information addressing the general health and life quality of such people, and the accessibility of their lifestyles as well as the effects, namely emotionally, of such things as abstinence pledges would be of interest.

And of course, you must now have an arsenal of documentation you can send my way based on long-term studies done of abstinence-based sex education, to show that we have clear evidence that such education, even more so than comprehensive sex education, does not lead to earlier or increased sexual activity, and in some cases delays the onset of sexual intercourse, and that when it does not, students of such methods do not have increased STD or STI transmission due the lack of using safer sex practices they have not been informed about in such curricula. In addition, there is no doubt much supporting information on the physical and emotional effects long-term of such curricula on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students, on students of diverse religious, socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, and on those who are already sexually active or infected with sexually transmitted diseases or infections.

I would appreciate having the sources of that information e-mailed to me, or sent to me hard copy at: <insert address here>. Unless, that is, such information does not exist, in which case you may proceed to prattle off some party line or another in a vain attempt to excuse yourself from favoring religious and political propaganda over actual science and sound health information for the citizens for whom you profess to be so invested in. I'd also suggest it be added to the sites recently updated as soon as possible. Given that half of all new HIV infections in the U.S. and two-thirds of all sexually transmitted disease infections occur among young people under the age of 25, and that nearly two-thirds of American teens and young adults are sexually active, many with more than one partner, and that there are nearly 200,000 new cases of breast cancer now reported annually, it is pertinent that this new information be available to the public as soon as possible so that it can assist in saving lives and in protecting our public health, which, as you well know, is your duty.

I came of sexual age when HIV and AIDS did, dear sirs, and watched infants die in my mother's ward at the children's hospital from AIDS; babies whose parents had no information on how to protect themselves from the HIV virus because we did not know what it was, and we did not know how to prevent its transmission. We don't see that as much here, thank goodness, because now we do know -- especially here in the United States, where we also have the power and the ability to share that knowledge, and the grave responsibility to disseminate it. Anyone who did not do so would be systematically and intentionally putting all of our lives and health at risk, which certainly is not the aim of the CDC or the United States Government. By no means would we seek to put ourselves back in 1985 to a place of ignorance when, in fact, we have all of the information available. There would be no reason to do such unless we were looking to commit acts of genocide for the same reason nations and groups have before us: to support ignorant, bigoted and knowingly uninformed religious or political supremacist views with no regard for those it harms or exterminates in the process. And it is most certainly the very last thing I would expect with a president in office who proclaims to be pro-life.

In the interest of fairness, and in case you simply misplaced the data which has been systematically erased from such pages, allow me to furnish you with the studies to which you once referred to before your recent copyedits.

Regarding abortion and breast cancer: "In the cohort of 1.5 million women (28.5 million person-years), we identified 370,715 induced abortions among 280,965 women (2.7 million person-years) and 10,246 women with breast cancer. After adjustment for known risk factors, induced abortion was not associated with an increased risk of breast cancer (relative risk, 1.00; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.94 to 1.06). No increases in risk were found in subgroups defined according to age at abortion, parity, time since abortion, or age at diagnosis of breast cancer. The relative risk of breast cancer increased with increasing gestational age of the fetus at the time of the most recent induced abortion: <7 weeks, 0.81 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.58 to 1.13); >12 weeks, 1.38 (1.00 to 1.90) (reference category, 9 to 10 weeks). " (The New England Journal of Medicine (1997;336:81-85, Dr. Medbye, et al, Department of Epidemiology Research, Danish Epidemiology Science Center, Statens Serum Institut, 5 Artillerivej, DK-2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark)

The previous fact sheet on condom use from the CDC referred to some of the following studies which showed the overwhelming successes of both condom use, safer sex practices, and comprehensive sex education globally among diverse groups:

• Kamb ML, Fishbein M, Douglas JM Jr, et al. Efficacy of risk-reduction counseling to prevent human immunodeficiency virus and sexually transmitted diseases: a randomized controlled trial: Project RESPECT Study Group. JAMA. 1998;280:1161-1167.

• Shain R, Piper J, Newton E, et al. A randomized, controlled trial of a behavioral intervention to prevent sexually transmitted disease among minority women. N Engl J Med. 1999;340:93-100.

• The National Institute of Mental Health Multisite HIV Prevention Trial Group. The NIMH Multisite HIV Prevention Trial: reducing HIV sexual risk behavior. Science. 1998;280:1889-1894.

• Kelly JA, St. Lawrence JS, Stevenson LY, et al. Community AIDS/HIV risk reduction: the effects of endorsements by popular people in three cities. Am J Public Health. 1992;82:1483-1489.

• de Vincenzi I. A longitudinal study of human immunodeficiency virus transmission by heterosexual partners: European Study Group on Heterosexual Transmission of HIV. N Engl J Med. 1994;331:341-346.

• Deschamps MM, Pape JW, Hafner A, Johnson WD Jr. Heterosexual transmission of HIV in Haiti. Ann Intern Med. 1996;125:324-330.

• Nelson KE, Celentano DD, Eiumtrakol S, et al. Changes in sexual behavior and a decline in HIV infection among young men in Thailand. N Engl J Med. 1996;335:297-303.

• Albert AE, Warner DL, Hatcher RA. Facilitating condom use with clients during commercial sex in Nevada's legal brothels. Am J Public Health. 1998;88:643-646.

• Musaba E, Morrison CS, Sunkutu MR, Wong EL. Long-term use of the female condom among couples at high risk of human immunodeficiency virus infection in Zambia. Sex Transm Dis. 1998;25:260-264.

Of course, our former Surgeon General no doubt left you at least some of this data before he released his letter written on July 9th of last year where some of these studies are listed in the extensive footnotes, and in which he clearly stated, "providing information about contraception does not increase adolescent sexual activity, either by hastening the onset of sexual intercourse, increasing the frequency of sexual intercourse, or increasing the number of sexual partners." and "the absence of scientific evaluations {about religion based programs} precludes arriving at a definitive conclusion on the effectiveness of these programs." Most importantly, Dr. Satcher said, "Solutions are complex but we do have evidence that we can promote sexual health and responsible sexual behavior. Given the diversity of attitudes, beliefs, values and opinions, finding common ground might not be easy but it is attainable. We are more likely to find this common ground through a national dialogue with honest and respectful communication. We need to appreciate and respect the diversity of our culture and be informed by the science that is available to us."

No doubt, given even that small sampling of such studies as those listed above, and the potent words of the respected former Surgeon General, the hard copies of your studies standing counter to those, whose information has supplanted the data of the existing studies, may be a heavy package, indeed. You are welcome to send it COD if you prefer, given the present state of our economy.

As Dr. Fleming, the CDC’s deputy director for science, has said that “this fact sheet is designed to be as scientifically accurate as possible," I have no doubt you will be glad to provide the scientific evidence on which it is based. Given his official statement as well that, "We try as hard as possible to state objectively what is known about condom efficacy without nuancing language beyond what is supported by the science, " I have the fullest confidence that all of these revisions are based on tangible data we can peruse freely and which you will gladly make accessible, and not on the "nuanced language" of incestuously intertwined political and religious propaganda. I very much look forward to hearing from you. Perhaps even more than you look forward to hearing from me.

Thank you,
Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen.com/Scarletletters.com



Feel like reaching out and smacking touching someone? Sure you do. So, dust off your bum and do something.

To email the National Cancer Institute:
http://www.nci.nih.gov/contact/form_contact.aspx

To email the CDC website:
http://www.cdc.gov/netinfo.htm

All content and design © 1997 - 2001 Heather Corinna. All rights reserved.
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