Thoughts on condoms and AIDS
Mark Shea (who, by the way, is one of my favorite Catholic apologists, and whose blog, “Catholic and Enjoying It,” is always good reading!) points to an interview in Tempi in which Professor Edward Green, the head of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at Harvard and a self-proclaimed agnostic and social liberal, defends the Pope’s assertions that condoms have only made the AIDS crisis worse. Some highlights:
[W]e cannot have complete Sexual Freedom and effective prevention at the same time[...]sexual behavior must change in basic ways for HIV infection rates to decline
[The media] reacted as they did for a number of reasons, starting with the deep-rooted belief that condoms work much better than they actually do. We cannot really blame journalists for being ignorant of the evidence, especially when leading experts keep saying that condoms are the number one weapon we have against AIDS. And yes, people including scientists are influenced by vested interests (most American money for AIDS prevention goes through family planning or reproductive health organizations.) A factor usually overlooked is the ideology of sexual liberation. Those of us who work in AIDS don’t realize how much the values and ideology of sexual freedom and liberation influence our thinking. It helps explain why until very recently, faith-based organizations were largely excluded from AIDS prevention even though FBOs run many of the hospitals, clinics and schools in Africa. It also explains the strong emotional reactions we see when the AIDS establishment is challenged.
Those who insist that the Pope is contributing to the suffering of millions of Africans by refusing to endorse condom use need to ask themselves if they are truly interested in resolving the crisis, or simply in scoring political points against the Catholic Church and ensuring that the philosophy of complete sexual license is not undermined. It seems to me that the argument over condoms is a red herring that allows us to ignore the bigger issues that need to be addressed on the African Continent, and that could be addressed if the West had the political will: greater availability of very expensive drugs to treat AIDs, malaria, and other widespread diseases; clean water; investment in infrastructure to promote economic growth; and conflict resolution and prevention.