Clayton tells us that in September 1990, John Paul II visited Africa. The pope told his audience that condom use was a sin and praised fidelity and abstinence as the only true ways to combat AIDS. Clayton goes on to say that after the papal visit, the pandemic gathered pace.
So far billions of condoms have been shipped to Africa in order to prevent the spread of HIV. However, countries that have relied on such “protection” to curb the epidemic are not seeing any great decline in the virus.
For over a decade Botswana has relied upon widespread availability of condoms in order to combat AIDS. Campaigns for abstinence and fidelity were not emphasized. Instead, billboards about “safe sex” lined the streets, while schoolchildren learned songs about condoms. According to The Washington Post, “The anti-AIDS partnership between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and drugmaker Merck budgeted $13.5 million for condom promotion—25 times the amount dedicated to curbing dangerous sexual behavior. But soaring rates of condom use have not brought down high HIV rates. Instead, they rose together, until both were among the highest in Africa.”
In the late 1980s, Uganda was viewed as the worst nation in the world in terms of HIV/AIDS infections. In 1991 22 percent of people in the country were infected with HIV. By 1999 the number had dropped to 6 percent. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni insists that their unique success among African countries is due to their behavioral approach. He said, “In comparison with other countries per capita expenditure on condoms, we spend far below other developed countries, which emphasize use of condoms in their fight against the disease.” Instead of placing the primary emphasis on condoms, they emphasized abstinence and faithfulness first. As a result, they have experienced the greatest decline in HIV in the world. According to the Journal of International Development, it was “the lack of condom promotion during the 1980s and early 1990s [that] contributed to the relative success of behavior change strategies in Uganda.”
Unfortunately, the success in Uganda has been undermined in recent years. According to The Washington Post, “The Ugandan turnaround was well underway by the time foreign AIDS experts began to arrive in the early ’90s, bringing with them the Western public health approaches—and values. They began to retool Uganda’s AIDS prevention efforts away from abstinence and fidelity—goals that many Westerners felt were unrealistic. As condom use increased, the percentage of young singles having sex rose from 27 percent to 37 percent between 1995 and 2000.” With the increase in promiscuous sexual activity comes increased risk of catching AIDS.
Sam L. Ruteikara wrote in the Washington Post that efforts to maintain the world's most successful AIDS prevention programme (Uganda) was "sabotaged" by Western "experts" who insisted that only condoms would work. Ruteikara is the co-chair of Uganda's National AIDS-Prevention Committee. He recently said that, "AIDS epidemics in Africa are driven by people having sex regularly with more than one person."
The Philippines is another example of where condoms are rare, and so is AIDS. A New York Times article entitled “Low Rate of AIDS Virus In Philippines Is a Puzzle” reported that the Church in the Philippines is “conservative and politically powerful.” As a result, “the government has no AIDS-awareness program of its own and restricts the public campaigns of independent family-planning groups.”
John Paul II did not increase the AIDS epidemic through his abstinence approach, it was the foreign AIDS experts who thrust upon the population the myth of safe sex through the use of condoms which increased the AIDS epidemic in Africa.
I believe that Clayton has chosen to write about this particular topic in response to Pope Benedict XVI visit to Africa. Pope Benedict XVI said that condoms are not the solution to the problem of AIDS in Africa and, in fact, they create more problems. He said the "traditional teaching of the Church" on chastity outside marriage and fidelity within it had proved to be "the only sure way of preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS." He added that while "we must suffer with those who suffer" and give greater support to those who are sick with the disease, combating AIDS in Africa depends on promoting "correct and moral behavior."
. Sue Ellin Browder, “Dirty Little Secret: Why Condoms Will Never Stop AIDS in Africa,” Crisis (1 June 2006).
. Craig Timberg, “Speeding HIV’s Deadly Spread,” Washington Post Foreign Service (2 March 2007), A01. . Allen and Heald, 1141.
. Edward Green, et al., Evidence That Demands Action (Austin, TX: Medical Institute for Sexual Health, 2005), ii.
. Yoweri Museveni,11th International Conference of People Living with HIV, as reported by Panafrican News Agency Daily Newswire (29 October 2003).
. Joseph Loconte, “The White House Initiative to Combat AIDS: Learning from Uganda,” The Heritage Foundation: Backgrounder 1692 (29 September 2003).
. Allen and Heald, from abstract of article, 1141 (emphasis mine).
. Edward C. Green and Wilfred May, “Let Africans Decide How to Fight AIDS,” The Washington Post (29 November 2003): A23.
. Seth Mydans, “Low Rate Of AIDS Virus In Philippines Is a Puzzle,” The New York Times (20 April 2003).
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