The leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, not too long ago stirred up a bit of controversy over statements he made about condom use and their part in the program to control the horrific spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa.
The Pope was on his way to Cameroon and Angola which are portion of sub-Sahara Africa exactly where it is estimated that 22 million folks currently are infected with the HIV virus.
Social workers and aid agencies, as well as major organizations such as the UN have been promoting condom use as a way to quit the spread of HIV/AIDs. So it comes as a bit of a shock to hear somebody as influential as the Pope suggest the technique is flawed.
Everybody knows that the Catholic Church is officially against the use of condoms as a strategy of birth manage. But in this case the Pope’s comments were aimed at the notion that condom use is an successful weapon against the spread of HIV/AIDS.
In other words, he was questioning the science behind the approach. He was suggesting that condoms might do much more harm than excellent.
His actual words, according to a single report had been that “a tragedy that can’t be overcome by funds alone, that cannot be overcome by way of the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the issues”.
This could sound like a shocking denunciation of a policy that has widespread acceptance around the planet. But the truth is, it is perfectly constant with the regular Catholic position on such matters.
The Church has usually taught that the greatest way to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS (or unwanted pregnancy for that matter) is by encouraging sexual abstinence and fidelity between sexual partners.
Of course this Pope could not leave it at that. The bit about “aggravating” the dilemma by distributing condoms tends to make it sound like he was saying, “Handing out condoms promotes promiscuity, and that leads to an even greater infection rate.”
Regardless of whether this typically old-fashioned sounding message has any relevance in a location like sub-Sahara Africa is yet another matter. There are real difficulties on the ground that have to be dealt with – millions of people with HIV/AIDS who are spreading the illness to others.
It sounds rather unrealistic to recommend this will modify just by encouraging folks to modify their lives. The spread of the disease is not going to wait for people to alter their morality.
Take the ever-present sex workers, for example, and the men who use their solutions. Sex workers have been 1 of the primary methods the virus has spread. Man sleeps with prostitute. Man gets infected. Man sleeps with wife. Man infects wife.
Is the Pope suggesting that guys who use prostitutes need to have to adjust their moral values? Does it imply that, rather than distributing condoms to people in danger of infecting other folks, social workers must concentrate on promoting life-style changes?
Or should they spend their time and power dealing with the present reality? Carrying out factors like educating individuals about the significance of protection is a excellent location to commence. An additional is encouraging sex workers not to have sex with males who will not use a condom.
On the other hand, the Pope has a point. Even someone as effectively-placed as the director of Harvard university’s HIV Prevention Study Project, Dr. Edward Green, has said “there is not a single nation in Africa exactly where HIV prevalence has come down primarily simply because of condoms.”
According to Green the only nations exactly where HIV is decreasing are these exactly where fewer men and ladies are reporting obtaining sex with more than a single companion. In other words, nations exactly where there is greater abstinence and fidelity are producing progress against HIV.
To take it one step additional, according to Green studies have shown that the people using condoms in particular African nations are these engaging in risky sexual behavior. He also claims that people who have greater access to condoms also tend to have a lot more than a single sex companion.
So there is no easy straightforward resolution to this dilemma. Yes, the longer term objective ought to be to encourage significantly less promiscuity and far more faithfulness between sexual partners.
But in the face of a crushing epidemic, quick term measures have to be promoted as nicely. The widespread use of condoms undoubtedly appears like one particular of them.