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West’s Aids strategy is a failure, says new report

By on Wednesday, 1 June 2011

People light candles to mark World Aids Day in Kathmandu, Nepal (CNS Photo/Navesh Chitrakar)

People light candles to mark World Aids Day in Kathmandu, Nepal (CNS Photo/Navesh Chitrakar)

Millions of people are dying from Aids because western governments will not accept that condoms are ineffective in curbing the spread of the disease, a forthcoming report by the Catholic Church claims.

Evidence shows that rates of infection have risen most sharply in those countries which have been flooded with condoms, says the report, because they encourage promiscuity. But rates have fallen in the few places that have encouraged monogamy and fidelity among married couples, it says.

The report, The Catholic Church and the Global Aids Crisis, cites research estimating that if, instead of condoms, fidelity and abstinence were promoted across sub-Saharan Africa some six million new infections would have been averted in less than a decade, with four million fewer Aids orphans created. Such programmes might have saved 3.2 million lives in South Africa alone from 2000 to 2010, and prevented 80 per cent of HIV infections in the hardest hit areas of the continent, the report says.

“The overwhelming body of epidemiological evidence tells us that we have very little to show for all the investments in risk reduction measures, despite assurances that they were the indispensible solution to the problem,” said the author, Matthew Hanley, an American public health expert who has worked on HIV prevention programmes in Africa. “Many would be surprised to learn that condoms … have not delivered as promised in the fight against Aids.

“They have, quite simply, not accounted for declines in HIV prevalence that their advocates had expected. Though condoms have been the priority intervention, and been promoted time and time again, they have a rather poor track record in general – for Aids in Africa as well as a range of other sexually transmitted infections in the West. Quite simply, each of Africa’s declines in Aids rates are most attributable to … changes in sexual behaviour – especially fidelity or what the public health community sometimes calls ‘partner reduction’.”

Since HIV/Aids was first identified in 1981 has infected an estimated 65 million people and killed 25 million of them. About 33 million people are living with the disease today.

Mr Hanley said that condom campaigns failed because they were susceptible to the phenomenon of “risk compensation” in which people who used them tended to be more promiscuous than those who did not.

He says that because condoms have a failure rate, even with “perfect” use some 12,000 infections are expected from every million people.

But the infection rate is in reality much higher, he claims in the report to be published next month by the London-based Catholic Truth Society, because people frequently use condoms either imperfectly or inconsistently.

Mr Hanley said that 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”.

But western governments continue to contribute to the spread of Aids because of their ideological commitment to “absolute sexual freedom” and a “billion dollar industry” in manufacturing and marketing condoms, he said.

“To suggest that people should limit their sexual behaviour is to cross the cultural Rubicon,” he said.

“Even officials to whom the public health is entrusted dare not contradict the prevailing ideological orthodoxy of modern western culture.”

The report provides evidence to show that Uganda saw a 10 per cent drop in the number of people with Aids between 1991 and 2001 after investing in abstinence programmes.
The rates of infection began to climb again when foreign donor agencies insisted on a family planning component in aid packages.

Pope Benedict XVI was severely criticised after he publicly doubted the efficacy of condoms to combat Aids during a visit to Cameroon in 2009. Among the few public figures to defend him, however, was Professor Edward Green, an adviser to US President Barack Obama and the director of the Aids Prevention Research Project at Harvard University.
“The best evidence we have supports the Pope’s comments,” said Dr Green.

Last year, the British government announced proposals to “hard-wire” family planning services into its overseas development programmes.

Andrew Mitchell, International Development Secretary, said that the Government planned an “unprecedented focus” on family planning in the poorest countries of the world.

A three-day conference on Aids held in Rome was preceded by an article in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, last week, also claiming that condoms were ineffective in combating the spread of the disease. The conference focused largely on how to change life-threatening behaviour patterns instead.

  • Ratbag

    The West will stick its fingers in its ears and go ‘la-la-la-la-la-la’ all it wants but this report - and the support of Professor Green from Harvard University for the Holy Father’s view on condoms – cannot be ignored for much longer.

    The West’s values and priorities are becoming more skewed.  The West is rapidly getting more secular in its attitude towards God.

    The secular West thinks that by denying that God exists there is no acceptance of personal responsibility nor the need for conscience and consideration for your fellow man.

    It’s happening now and it is not pretty.

    There are gobs-on-sticks-and-in-print (they know who they are) who have not spared any vitriol as they bullied, invalidated, distastefully and sickeningly attacked successive popes since Humanitae Vitae over the Roman Catholic Church’s stance on birth control, abortion and AIDS.

    These ignorant no-marks conveniently forget that the Roman Catholic Church is built on a rock and stands firm in their resolve whilst their ‘fashionable’ views are built on quicksand.

    Obama opened the floodgates for contraception, condoms and abortion in the United States, and by extension the rest of the world. I’ve noticed that countries such as The Philippines and Peru are considering legislation concerning what is laughingly called ‘reproductive health’.

    Co-incidence? Nope.

  • badjumbly

    I’d like to know what you mean by this: “The secular West thinks that by denying that God exists there is no acceptance of personal responsibility nor the need for conscience and consideration for your fellow man”. Do you believe that atheists are incapable of moral feeling and behaviour, and that morality requires a belief in the supernatural? I believe that morality concerns our behaviour towards our fellow humans (and animals) and you do not have to believe in any gods to care about that.

  • Ratbag

    Yes.

  • Parasum

    “Obama opened the floodgates for contraception, condoms and abortion in the United States…”

    In 1973 ? That’s when abortion was legalised – he was a child then. There had been tens of millions of abortions by the time he thought of standing for the Presidency.

  • http://twitter.com/godslacky Steven James

    Im just posting this if i comment i’ll uoset someone!

  • badjumbly

    In that case I reckon I have more respect for my fellow humans than you do. I try to treat people well because I value them in their own right, whereas you seem to need a deity to confer worth on them and prompt consideration towards them. I say “Blessed are they who do good for goodness’s sake, without the incentive of feeling watched by divine eyes”.

    You’re right about one thing, though: the West is certainly becoming more secular, but that’s a trend that started in the 18th century, and if it’s a passing fashion, it’s taking a long time to pass and shows no sign of flagging just yet. The Pope’s influence gets ever weaker, and even in predominantly Catholic countries many of his views are widely ignored. Brazil now has legally recognised gay partnerships. Malta looks ready to accept divorce. If the Catholic Church is built on a rock, that rock is looking increasingly out at sea. The tide simply flows round it.

  • ms catholic state

    Western godless governments…..the most ineffective incompetents going.  Not even got plain common sense!  Is it any wonder the West is finished.

  • ms catholic state

    Did you know secularists are ageing and dying out.  Eventually they will be at a disadvantage in a democracy….because their populations are shrinking.  As the Good Book says….the wages of sin is death.

  • Weary Convert

     If it is the case that contraceptives are ineffective at preventing the transmission of AIDS – a very large “if” – then the obvious course is to make them more effective which I have little doubt can be done.  As to  the ritual comments that the RC Church is, “built on a rock and stands firm in their (sic) resolve” then it should resolve to leave the matter of contraception to the people practising it because, as I for one have stated before, the Church’s attempts to claim authority over individuals’ personal sexual arrangements is ultra vires and has not more validity than its farcical attempts to pronounce on cosmology. It is sad that the Vatican’s insidious habit of creeping infallibility has landed it in a hole at least as big as that which it has dug for itself on clerical sexual abuse. 

  • Weary Convert

    Presumably the writer feels that the billion plus of Chinese and their Communist party offer a much better hope for the future.  I rather doubt if the Chinese Catholic bishops feel the same way.

  • Weary Convert

    Fourth line – “the Church’s attempts” –  whoops, I can hardly insert a “sic” in someone else’s quotation if I do the same myself!  Sorry should of course be “attempt.”

  • badjumbly

    Yes, I did know that secularists are aging. Everyone is aging, and it would be odd if secularists were an exception. I do not think, however, that they will die out, because most people in the more modern areas of the world realise that the best guarantee for religious tolerance is a secular society. The countries called “theocracies” (ie, ruled by clerics) tend not to have great records of tolerating any other religion but the dominant one, which is usually some branch of Islam, and even in Iran there is now widespread disenchantment with the degree of clerical power. I feel compassion for you, as you clearly hate the secular regime in which you live, but there aren’t many places in the world which might offer you a vastly more congenial environment, unless one of those Earth-like planets in which you place so much hope gets colonised by the Catholic Church within your lifetime.

  • ms catholic state

    Secularists are aging more than anybody ….as they don’t have so many children.  So their mean age is very high.  Consider…..the mean age in the Middle East hovers around 20!  So I guess they will be replacing you secularists.  I don’t hate anyone…as my religion forbids it….but secularism is not only evil…but also inadequate.

  • ms catholic state

    How about we try chastity before marriage and fidelity after it.  Those that do….are virtually immune from AIDS.  The Church as usual is right ie infallible.  The choice is ours.

  • Ratbag

    Here, here!

  • Ratbag

    Actually, The Pope’s influence is getting stronger. The Rock is not all at sea. The Rock has weathered many storms and it is weathering this one.

    We are not finished… not by a long chalk!

  • Ratbag

    One half of the ‘Roe Vs Wade’ is now pro-life.

    It does not matter a gnat’s backside what age he was when Roe Vs Wade brought in abortion. That’s fogging the issue.

    Well, Obama’s record speaks for itself. His is the WORST of any US president regarding these heinous issues. If there were ‘tens of millions of abortions’, as you put it, it’s ‘tens of millions’ too much. His first act as President was to sign legislation regarding abortion, contraception etc. NOT to solve any financial mess, rising unemployment or to hammer out a sensible strategy about how to get US troops out of Afghanistan.

    He could have left things so re abortion. He didn’t. He made things worse.

  • Ratbag

    One half of the ‘Roe Vs Wade’ is now pro-life.

    It does not matter a gnat’s backside what age he was when Roe Vs Wade brought in abortion. That’s fogging the issue.

    Well, Obama’s record speaks for itself. His is the WORST of any US president regarding these heinous issues. If there were ‘tens of millions of abortions’, as you put it, it’s ‘tens of millions’ too much. His first act as President was to sign legislation regarding abortion, contraception etc. NOT to solve any financial mess, rising unemployment or to hammer out a sensible strategy about how to get US troops out of Afghanistan.

    He could have left things so re abortion. He didn’t. He made things worse.

  • Ratbag

    So, pumping more hormones into pills and intimate contraptions would solve the inefficiency of contraception? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH….

    Mess with hormones and, by the flaming heck, you’ll know about it, mate!

    It’s rather like the abuse of anti-biotics. No matter how strong you make ‘em, there are mutant infections right around the corner if we don’t look after our hygiene properly.

    It is the Church’s business what we do with our sexual lives because they emphasise human love and responsibility and the word of God. Sexual love is for the marriage between man and woman in Holy Matrimony… not for selfishness or because we happen to feel randy.

  • Ratbag

    Ms catholic state – are we the only ones who have actually READ this article properly? It appears so. The rest of the messages are still putting fingers in their ears going la-la-la-la-la-la-la or they haven’t progressed from the Mr Men.

  • Ratbag

    Secularists are ageing and dying out.

    If they are not dying out by now, they go to the ‘vets’ in Switzerland for suicide holidays… or campaigning for them to be legalised here!

  • Ratbag

    Too true! Secularism is divisive, dangerous and causes a lot of grief.

    They’d rather blame the Roman Catholic Church for their misgivings than admit they have got things wrong.

    Aw!

  • Gwaz3

    I believe that God created the Universe and all who inhabit it.  He gave us His commandments on how to thrive here and gain heaven.  Mother Nature is His handmaiden and has established immutable laws. No human has ever changed one of them, and when they try, there are consequences.  First came artificial birth control, followed by increased immorality, increased conflict between men & women, increased divorce and then abortion (often forced by parents, husbands, or boyfriends), and of course, increased spread of diseases.  The world, especially western Europe, Japan, and Korea are entering a demographic winter.  Even China realizes it will not have enough citizens to care for their elderly or grow their economy and presently is missing 30 million women to marry males in their child-bearing years.   Where will all that testosterone go?

    We can never fool Mother Nature or God. 

  • badjumbly

    What is your evidence for your claim that the Pope’s influence is getting stronger?
    You at least admit there is a problem when you write that “The Rock is not ALL at sea”. So part of it is then. 

  • Teach

    sic

  • Rich

    Bad bloke, your comments do not add up.

  • Teach

    Love you x

  • badjumbly

    We die whatever we believe. Your vision of the world’s secularists dying out seems a compensatory fantasy, lurid even by Catholic standards.

  • badjumbly

    Who will be replacing us secularists? Young people from the Middle East? Are they Catholic? Is this what you want: for the culture of the Middle East to replace western secularism? What a jolly holy war your descendents would have, if your wishes came true.
    Western secular democracy isn’t going to disappear any time soon, because there is more to cultural staying power in the world than a birth-rate. If birth-rates were the key to power, Africa would be the most powerful continent.
    You think secularism is evil. Do you live in a secular state? If so, how do you cope with living in a state you consider to be based on evil principles? With fantasies of future Catholic states?

  • badjumbly

    Secularism clearly causes a lot of grief to you, but don’t forget that it allowed Catholics to continue to practice their religion legally in Britain after the Protestants had won the political battle. This is just one example of secularism being less religiously divisive than religions, and you ought to be grateful for it.
     
    Who are the people you accuse of blaming the Catholic Church for their misgivings? What misgivings? 
    Your second paragraph is too vague to judge.

    Aw!

  • badjumbly

    I would be happy to reply to your argument, but first you need to produce one.

  • badjumbly

    Don’t think you’re going to get around me like that!

  • Weary Convert

    MS Catholic state, states “The Church as usual is right ie infallible” – so the sun does go around the earth after all.  That’s a bit of a surprise for those involved in the exploration of space.
     
    On the sexual side, of course there should be fidelity in marriage but how about those born with AIDS or who have acquired it thorough infected blood?  Are Catholics to follow the Jehovah Witnesses and ban blood transfusions?
     
    Turning to Mr Ratbag, as well as castigating antibiotics (how extraordinary!), he wants sexual relations to be on the same basis as in “1984″ – the couple’s “duty to the party” thus excluding the possibility that sexual attraction can be sudden and exciting – or “randy” as he likes to sneer at it. This approach is a clear indication that those – particularly and absurdly, including celibate clergy – who poke their noses into the intimate sides of other people’s sexual relations, can reasonably be seen as little better than voyeurs and control freaks.

  • ms catholic state

    Of course I don’t want it…..but that is the reality…..and your secular politicians know it very well.  Western secular democracy will not make it into the 22nd century. It will be Islamised by then….birthrates indicate it. If you don’t believe me….try asking your politicians.

    Africa is blooming…with 6 of the top 12 fastest growing economies in Africa.  Ghana has a growth rate of almost 20%…beating even China.

  • ms catholic state

    These cases are not contagious…..with careful blood screening, medical treatment and proper hygiene.  Lack of hygiene and re-using needles at remote clinics often accounts for Africa’s high HIV rate.  This can easily be addressed.

    But the greatest source of AIDS spread and contagion…..is promiscuity.  Listen to the Catholic Church…..the ultimate moral authority.

  • Arcanehybrid

    “MS Catholic state, states “The Church as usual is right ie infallible” – so the sun does go around the earth after all.  That’s a bit of a surprise for those involved in the exploration of space.”

    Would have been a great straw-man if it wasn’t based on incredible misinformation. The Church has never made an official stance on the scientific truths of the universe. However, episodes like Galileo and Giardarmo Bruno arose not because of their scientific backgrounds, but because they moved their arguments smack into the theological space.

    While anti-Catholic arguments will never fade, it would be pretty cool if people actually read about the assertions they blindly make!

  • Ratbag

    OK, clevertrousers. Badjumbly – an appropriate moniker if ever there is one.

    You want evidence? Look at China and Africa… where the church is rapidly growing despite what you say and despite the secularist, atheist Chinese Government whilst The West is thinking like you. Russia is building churches, not pulling them down. Faith is alive and well in the world.

    The Rock is whole, sunshine! It’s weathering the storm on ALL SIDES. If the Pope’s influence is not getting stronger, why is it that Heads of State from all over the world visit him when they are in Italy?!

    And who helped tear down the Berlin Wall? Blessed Pope John Paul II.

  • Ratbag

    Secularists aging and dying… face facts.

  • Ratbag

    Don’t flatter yourself!

  • Ratbag

    Grateful for what?????????

    Our freedom to worship was hard fought for, not given to us because protestants decided to be nice to us… sheesh! How thick are you?

    Catholics are MERELY TOLERATED in Britain. It took an Irish parliamentarian called Daniel O’Connell to introduce the Emancipation Act. Catholics were suppressed and martyred for many years before that … all because one lustbucket of a king spat the dummy and didn’t get his own way with the Pope.

  • Ratbag

    Yawn!

  • Teach

    Thanks everso, but I’m not sure I do need to produce one. What you say has no substance, there’s nothing to back it up, “your comments do not add up”. What more can I say – your comments are unrock-like. x

  • Paul

    We shouldn’t forget that the Holy Father said, in the book “Light of the World”,
    She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality. “

  • patrick

    There is a difference between theocracy and a liberal democracy where religion can be brought to bear in public affairs. Religion often informs politics here in the United States. It’s not a theocracy.

    Christians have always affirmed the separation of Church and State (give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, etc.) What we as Christians are concerned about is an aggressive form of secularism that says religion can only be a private matter, and that voters or state officials can never express religious preferences. Richard John Neuhaus wrote on this often, for example in his book “The Naked Public Square.”

    Aggressive secularism is just as dangerous as theocracy as far as human rights are concerned. By denying God, the state becomes God. If human rights don’t derive from God, then they are merely a privilege granted by the state, which can be rescinded at any time. This is why the Declaration of Independence says “GOD created all men equal,” not “the state will make men equal.”

  • patrick

    China offers a vision of the endpoint of secularism: all belief subservient to the state. God is replaced with the state. It is atheist communism, not Christianity, which has been the enemy of human rights for the past 150 years.

  • patrick

    “Blessed are they who do good for goodness’s sake, without the incentive of feeling watched by divine eyes”. 
    That is a very Christian sentiment. (It’s not, however, an argument.) It is quite noble and Christian to act out of love, rather than to seek a reward. I commend you for your benevolence. However, you don’t seem to have considered the fact that the “divine eyes” exist whether or not you believe in them.

  • patrick

    No, you don’t have to believe in gods to be a good person. That’s a separate question, though, to whether God does in fact exist. You might want to consider the chain of events that led, historically, to your particular moral viewpoint. Good luck on your intellectual journey.

  • Anonymous

    Hardly surprising that the west still refuses to acknowledge that condoms do not work as a solution to the problem of AIDS. After all doing so would mean admitting that the Catholic Church was not only Church willing to stand up for itself in the secular West but was also right in doing so. One wonders how long a genuinely honest politician would act on the Catholic Church being right; assuming that there is such a thing in the modern west.

  • badjumbly

    “How thick are you?” is a futile question. If I were as stupid as you would like to believe me, would you expect me to be a discerning judge of my own intelligence, of whom the question was worth asking?

    Your phrase “merely tolerated” suggests that you have a low evaluation of tolerance. I value tolerance very highly. The present level of tolerance for the expression of religious and other ideologies that we enjoy in Britain and the western world today has been very hard won, and not only by Catholics. The end product of all the persecutions of Catholics by Protestants, and of Protestants by Catholics, and of non-Christians by both, is the secular state, where no-one need fear legal persecution because they follow, or do not follow, a particular religion, and yet you despise the secular state. What do you want instead? What would you like Britain to be if not a secular state? When you say that “Catholics are merely tolerated in Britain”, what more do you expect? Tolerance is the basic allowance we can all claim, whereas respect and public influence have to be earned. I never claimed that Protestants “decided to be nice to” Catholics. My belief is that people on both sides decided to toe a tolerant line because they eventually realised that religions weren’t worth killing people over.  

    If your historic analysis is correct - that Protestantism arose and Catholics were suppressed and martyred for years “all because one lustbucket of a king … didn’t get his way with the Pope” – what might this tell you about your God? Could it be that His sectarian preferences are less consequential on this particular island than a king’s lust? I certainly don’t regard Henry VIII as any sort of hero, but I do regard his standing up to the Pope as a happy accident of history. Perhaps it is indeed because Henry didn’t get his own way with the Pope that now the Pope doesn’t get his own way in Britain. If Henry “spat the dummy”, perhaps that’s because he wasn’t prepared to lie down all his life and act like a helpless baby, subject to the law of “Papa knows best”. I’m an atheist, and I spat the dummy out long ago, but if you wish to keep sucking on yours, I have no problem tolerating that.

  • badjumbly

    It seems that I don’t need to.