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CDC advice for Americans headed to the Winter Olympics: ‘Use latex condoms’

- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 1, 2014

Those who wonder if the Centers for Disease Control is making proper use of tax dollars should note that the federal agency has released a list of "healthy recommendations" for anyone venturing to the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The advice is practical. And personal. Ready?

Get vaccinated. Pack smart. Check. Carry proof of medical insurance, and be aware of emergency exit locations. Sounds reasonable. Then comes this entry:

"Healthy Habits. Always wear seat belts. Wash your hands well and often. Drink alcohol in moderation and use latex condoms if you have sex."

A more extensive "destination" list under the CDC website elaborates:

"Protect yourself: Use latex condoms correctly. Do not inject drugs. Limit alcohol consumption. People take more risks when intoxicated. Do not share needles or any devices that can break the skin. That includes needles for tattoos, piercings, and acupuncture. If you receive medical or dental care, make sure the equipment is disinfected or sanitized."

Such warnings have proved a complicated challenge for many decades, however. Governments here and abroad has broached such sensitive topics in earlier eras, primarily directed to the military through posters, but minus the direct language.

"Fool the Axis - use prophylaxis" noted a World War II-era poster complete with caricatures of Hitler, among other foes.

"She may look clean - but pick ups, 'good time girls' and prostitutes spread syphilis and gonorrhea. You can't beat the Axis if you get VD," advised another.

"In an age without TV and internet they were the first line of defense against diseases like tuberculosis and gonorrhea," noted a historical analysis of the phenomena published last year in the Daily Mail.

Contemporary messages reflect the era.

"Planning ahead for safe and healthy travel will make your experience at the winter Olympics all the more enjoyable. Make sure your vaccines are up to date, pack a travel medicine kit, check your insurance, and stay healthy through good habits such as frequent hand washing and you'll come home a champion with lasting memories," advises CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden.

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