More Sex is Safer Sex
Economist Steven Landsburg explains why, counterintuitively, the spread of sexually transmitted diseases would decrease if sexually conservative people would start having more sex.
It’s true: AIDS is nature’s awful retribution for our tolerance of immoderate and socially irresponsible sexual behavior. The epidemic is the price of our permissive attitudes toward monogamy, chastity, and other forms of extreme sexual conservatism.
You’ve read elsewhere about the sin of promiscuity. Let me tell you about the sin of self-restraint.
Suppose you walk into a bar and find four potential sex partners. Two are highly promiscuous; the others venture out only once a year. The promiscuous ones are, of course, more likely to be HIV-positive. That gives you a 50-50 chance of finding a relatively safe match.
But what if all once-a-year revelers could be transformed into twice-a-year revelers? Then, on any given night, you’d run into twice as many of them. Those two promiscuous bar patrons would now be outnumbered by four of their more cautious rivals. Your odds of a relatively safe match just went up from 50-50 to four out of six.
It’s true that loosening up will make those “relatively safe” matches a little less safe then they used to be. But that’s easily outweighed by their increased availability.
Of course, the reduced risk of AIDS is an aggregate benefit enjoyed by society whereas the former sexual conservative who provides the benefit actually increases his own risk. He or she would, however, derive the added benefit of increased sexual pleasure.
Hat tip: Courtney Knapp