When Casual Sex Can Mean a Death Sentence!

Sun, 27 Sep 2009 Source: Pryce, Daniel K.

Anyone with a passion for investigative news magazines in the U.S.A. – CBS’s “60 Minutes”; NBC’s “Dateline”; and ABC’s “20/20,” among others – will readily acquiesce to the suggestion that the appetite for these shows stems from the fact that each segment is a potpourri of sensationalism, inanity, veracity and factuality. Often the work of meticulous and seasoned journalists who invest time and effort to check – and cross-check – their facts before unleashing them on an insatiable news-imbibing public, there is rarely a moment of boredom when one of these shows is on the air. So, when ABC's "20/20" aired a show recently about a Frenchman with AIDS who went around infecting several women in the U.S.A., it brought to the fore, once again, an issue that should no longer be trivialized or pushed to the back burner.

Anyone who saw the Friday, September 18, 2009, edition of “20/20” would have been left in awe as to how a Frenchman – he was born in France but had naturalized as a U.S. citizen several years ago – went on a rampage – more accurately, a penile rampage! – and infected more than a dozen unsuspecting middle-class women with the incurable and stigma-laden HIV virus. Even as Elizabeth Vargas of ABC News sat down with several of the women to discuss a story so enmeshed in the linens of piquancy and incredulity – some of them wore disguises for fear of being identified and subsequently ostracized by an unsympathetic public – one could only wonder how the protagonist – the Frenchman – could lure so many educated and arguably smart women into his bed night after night with little resistance from the latter!

Of course, there is the time-honored opinion that the French – both men and women – are remarkably sexy, so could many of these women have fallen for him because of some perceived exoticism? Sadly, even as these women were succumbing one after another to the Frenchman's allure, little did they know that this vagabond and popinjay of a man was both keeping several girlfriends at one time and deliberately infecting them with the deadly virus, for he had revealed to Elizabeth Vargas during an interview in his prison cell – this portion was aired toward the end of the show – that he was embittered because an unidentified woman had knowingly infected him with the lethal virus years earlier. In effect, his barbaric actions against all the once-healthy women were his way of injuring society for his HIV-plagued life. So, his prison sentence, in essence, could not be considered a sockdolager of a move, as it came too late for a dozen or more women.

What saddens this writer the more is the fact that some of these women had taken this seemingly gentle Frenchman on paid vacations at one time or another; some had even bought him cars as gifts. Therefore, for such a person to deliberately pronounce death sentences on women he claimed to have been in love with is truly diabolical, for unlike treatable conditions like gonorrhea and syphilis, HIV is incurable, thus exposing this ostensibly charming man as very cruel indeed.

During the aforesaid interview, Elizabeth Vargas asked why none of the women considered protecting themselves by insisting that the Frenchman wore a condom, especially in their early days of courtship with him – but all the women remarked that all entreaties to this crook to wear a condom were met with farcical and incongruous responses: he insisted that he got tested for HIV every year and was thus “clean”; he also claimed that he had medical reports from his doctors to support his argument. And why none of the women demanded to see the medical reports remains a mystery to some of us.

Except for one woman who made him wear a condom the very first time the two had sex, the rest of the ladies yielded every time to his bellicosity and extreme persuasion to have unprotected sex. Today, some of the women have full-blown AIDS, and although antiviral therapies may delay the inevitable, all of the Frenchman's victims fear that the disease might lead to other complications that could make the ends of their lives a heartrending spectacle to behold, as is common among those ravaged by AIDS.

There is a hallucinatory and pernicious belief among slightly older people (between 40 and 60 years of age) that AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases are generally issues that younger, more sexually active people ought to worry about, since older people tend to be more cautious when it comes to selecting their sexual partners. How erroneous! AIDS, due to the availability of many symptoms-suppressing drugs, can be hidden from even a health expert until actual tests are done, so before another person decides to enjoy a tryst, dalliance or bout of sex with a complete stranger, it is important that passion be subjugated to reason – the pleasure-seeking individual must insist on a life-saving condom! There were a few things common to all the women in this ABC News story: they were all over 40; they were all divorced; and almost all of them had reached menopause, implying that birth control was no longer a concern for them, which may be why they hesitated little to hop into bed with this villain. In other words, this Frenchman went specifically for some of the most vulnerable women in society!

To my Ghanaian brothers and sisters in Ghana and overseas, please understand that AIDS is a real disease and not a fictional tale that some doctors had concocted to curb sexual activity around the world. Sex is a beautiful thing, but it must be enjoyed with care and caution, if one is to not endure a lifetime of regret and self-loathing. Sex is a gratifying act, but it must be pursued with sound judgment, if one is to not end up with the scourge of a debilitating and fatal disease. Sex is a human want, and like all wants, the pursuer must employ wisdom to separate what is worth the effort from what is not. Even as both men and women struggle to understand their sexual proclivities, one ought to realize that a primary difference between humans and lower animals is the human capacity to say “no” where and when necessary. It is also true that saying “no” to the sexual advances of a hunk or femme fatale can be difficult, but it may be just what one needs to stay alive!

The writer, Daniel K. Pryce, holds a master’s degree in public administration from George Mason University, U.S.A. He is a member of the national honor society for public affairs and administration in the U.S.A. He can be reached at dpryce@cox.net.

Columnist: Pryce, Daniel K.