Since HIV/AIDS was first identified in 1981 a staggering 65 million people have contracted the disease. Twenty five million of them have been killed by it and a further 33 million are living with their infection, knowing it may eventually claim their lives. Many of these people are in sub-Saharan Africa where AIDS has taken the form of a pandemic.
The response of Western governments generally has been to try to prevent the spread of the disease by encouraging the use of condoms. But why do the rates continue to rise unabated both in Africa and in the western world. Is it really the fault of the Catholic Church, as some commentators would have us believe? Or are there other reasons for its prevalence? Could it be that such campaigns are just not working?
Such questions are examined and answered in a major new booklet from the Catholic Truth Society called The Catholic Church and the Global AIDS Crisis. Written by Matthew Hanley, a U.S. public health expert with experience of working on AIDS prevention programmes in Africa, he uses hard evidence to show how condoms campaigns are in fact flawed and that they contribute to the AIDS crisis rather than provide solutions to it. Hanley concludes by saying that what is needed – and is indeed possible – are AIDS prevention strategies based on a change in lifestyles, with an emphasis on fidelity within marriage and abstinence outside of it. In his report he offers evidence to show that:
• condom campaigns fail because they are susceptible to the phenomenon of “risk compensation” in which people who use such devices tend to be more promiscuous than those who do not in the belief that they are protected from harm;
• similar rates of failure and infection also exist in high risk groups in countries like Britain who are “knowledgeable about condoms and could not be more motivated to use them”;
• condoms campaigns are ideological and philosophical rather than scientific and that the real reason why western government and agencies invest in them is because they are wedded to the notion of “absolute sexual freedom” as well as the opportunity to make huge financial profit.
• rates of infection have risen most sharply in those countries which have been flooded with condoms but have fallen in the few places that have encouraged monogamy and fidelity;
• if, instead of condoms, fidelity and abstinence were promoted across Africa some six million new infections may have been averted in less than a decade, with four million fewer AIDS orphans created;
• some 3.2 million lives in South Africa alone might have been saved between 2000 and 2010 by the adoption of abstinence programmes and that 80 per cent of infections in the hardest hit areas of the continent might have been prevented.
Fergal Martin, General Secretary of the Catholic Truth Society, commented on this latest report:
“This publication makes a significant and incisive comment on what is, in essence, a global tragedy. Amid the staggering data on global death rates, and the hard evidence as to which prevention methods succeed and which don’t, the author sets out a measured, sensible and convincing assessment of their effectiveness and morality.
“For those who either want to hide their head in the sand of ideology, or to pretend that AIDS is just not their problem, or at best a problem that no one can ever solve, then read this report. In my view it is excellently researched and written, and is very accessible. Hanley covers a great deal of ground concisely and cogently. Highly informative and gets you thinking.”
The Catholic Church and the global AIDS crisis is available from CTS priced £2.50
Of related interest:
||The Catholic Church & the Sex Abuse Crisis - This excellently researched booklet sets out the nature and extent of clerical sexual abuse, its prevalence, likely causes and consequences. Its robust analysis of the crisis and its handling by Church authorities is both illuminating and balanced. The position, teaching and pastoral response to the crisis of the Catholic Church are rigorously assessed.
||25 Tough Questions on the Catholic Faith – Written by experts familiar with the varied contexts in which Catholics are called on to explain what they believe in and why, it covers sexuality, abortion, contraception, divorce, women priests, married priests, war, environment, purgatory, the pope, scripture, Catholic Mass, confessions, and suffering, just to name a few.
||Questions & Answers about Sex and Marriage – Dr Charlie O’Donnell answers 24 of the most common questions put to him by couples at marriage preparation classes. The beauty, practicality and advantages of the Church’s teachings on these issues are explained in this easy to read booklet.
Friday, 03 June 2011 10:15