Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson needs to stop talking about sex.

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“Biblically correct sex is safe,” Robertson reportedly claimed during a sermon in West Monroe, Louisiana last month. “It’s safe. You’re not going to get chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, AIDS — if you, if a man marries a woman, and neither of you have it, and you keep your sex between the two of you, you’re not going to get ever sexually transmitted diseases.”

“Man meets woman, marries her, keeps his sex right there,” he said. “The children come, the chances of them getting a sexually transmitted disease, would you say is almost zero? You can say it.”

As reported before, this is not Robertson’s first time making erroneous statements about sexual health.

How many ways is this new statement misleading?

First, there is some truth that practicing monogamy where both partners are without disease reduces the risk of contracting sexually transmitted illnesses. However, Robertson overlooks several important facts.

1. Many people who suffer from sexually transmitted infections are asymptomatic. 

  • The majority of people with chlamydia are asymptomatic. Up to 90% of men and 70-95% of women may not show symptoms. This has been confirmed by studies on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website. (See here.)
  • Latent syphilis can last for years without symptoms. 10 to 20 years after transmission, this form of the disease can damage the internal organs, including the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones, and joints. (See here.)
  • Gonorrhea can also be asymptomatic. The CDC estimates that more than half of all the cases of gonorrhea in the U.S. may go unreported, partially because of sufferers who are asymptomatic. (See here.)

2. Reduced risk of disease through monogamy is not limited to heterosexual couples.

  • Two sexually active individuals in a homosexual relationship also reduce their risk for STI-transmission, but in neither case is the risk eliminated. Safe sex practices apply to both. (See the CDC website on STD prevention here.)

3. HIV/AIDS can be transmitted through non-sexual contact.

  • Besides drug users, many hemophiliacs were infected with HIV through tainted blood supplies. According to National Hemophilia Foundation, before HIV/AIDS transmission was understood, around half of all hemophiliacs in America were infected between the late 1970s and early 1980s, leading to thousands of deaths that did not involve sexual contact.  (Source)
  • Around 10% of all HIV/AIDS cases are due to intravenous drug use, also independent of sexual contact. (Source)

In other words, this is highly misleading advice on sexual health based on a religious ideology, not medical science. I am not objecting to religion, but while people are entitled to their own religious beliefs, they are not entitled to their own medical science.

Here is the video of his sermon:

http://www.mrctv.org/embed/129407

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About jslachman381

I'm a Yale graduate who majored in History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health.

View all posts by jslachman381

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