Africa, AIDS, and the Pope

Nearly every news article, story, and blurb about Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to Africa has some snide comment about the Church’s stance on artificial birth control and how Pope Benedict XVI says that condoms won’t solve the AIDS crisis in Africa. Writers and uninformed speakers alike paint the Pope as a man who cares more about religious dogma than people’s lives, as though, by his affirmation of the Church’s teaching on sexual morality Pope Benedict XVI is condemning Africans (and other inhabitants of countries struggling with AIDS) to death by AIDS.

NOT SO! I yell. Not so at all. If people would simply open their eyes and see “the big picture” it would all make sense. What is the (main) way the disease is being spread? Sexual contact. Casual sexual encounters, and sexual encouters by force (which, if it’s by force, don’t count on the rapist to take the time to put on a condom…). Handing out condoms like candy only encourages those casual sexual encounters. Are condoms 100% foolproof against spreading HIV/AIDS? Heck no. Look at all the condoms they’ve already been handing out in Africa. There’s still a huge AIDS problem. The only way to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS through sexual encounters is to eliminate those casual sexual encounters. Abstinence. Self-control. We live in such an indulgent society that it’s hard for us to imagine saying no. It’s hard for us to imagine having to deny ourselves a pleasure simply because it will be better for us in the long run.

Let us at a real example from history: the Philippines and Thailand. When the first cases of HIV/AIDS were reported in the Philippines the Church’s policy was implemented (i.e., don’t have sex with an infected person)… there is now a minuscule rate of AIDS in the Philippines. In Thailand, the Church’s policy was ignored and condoms were promoted. The death rate from AIDS is climbing and child prostitution is rampant. Mere coincidence? Highly doubtful.

So what should Africans do? Listen to the Catholic Church! Listen to the Pope! Don’t have sex with an infected person. Bam, zero chance of getting HIV if you’re not putting yourself at risk. Using a condom while having sex with an infected person only increasing your chance of contracting HIV each time. Promoting condoms is promoting an increased spread of AIDS. Promoting abstinence is promoting a grinding halt. Which makes sense to you?