What's happening at the
Tuesday 20 Feb 2018 | 15:11 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 20 Feb 2018 | 15:11 | SYDNEY

Pope's condom stance defies evidence



19 March 2009 12:38

Pope Benedict’s statement, made prior to his current African tour, that the use of condoms could play no part in reducing the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic has been widely and justifiably condemned.

No dispassionate observer of the evidence accumulated over the 25 years of the HIV/AIDS pandemic could come to any other conclusion than that the promotion and use of condoms has prevented literally millions of young people from being infected with HIV and from great suffering and early death from AIDS.

By the late 1980s, the transmission of HIV was well-described. It was therefore clear how individuals might avoid infection, and how the general spread of HIV brought under control. The use of condoms reduced HIV transmission through vaginal and anal sex, and the use of clean needles and syringes reduced the spread among injecting drug users and recipients of transfusions and other medical procedures.

In countries (including Australia and many Asian nations) that implemented these simple preventive measures, rates of new HIV/AIDS infection plummeted. Where reactionary social and religious forces blocked the introduction of these policies (notably in Africa), rates of new HIV infection, and consequent death rates from AIDS, reached appallingly high levels.

Hardly surprisingly, monogamy, chastity and fidelity have not proven to be the foundations of effective HIV prevention policies in Africa or anywhere else.

The tragic consequences of the anti-condom policies first determined by John Paul II and restated in Africa by Benedict XVI, are clear for all to see. And those who most clearly understand the enormity of this disaster are the many outstanding Catholic priests, nuns, doctors, nurses, carers and laypeople who must care for the innocent victims of the Vatican’s intransigent persistence in error in the face of all evidence to the contrary.

Photo by Flickr user Ammar Abd Rabbo, used under a Creative Commons license.

You may also be interested in...