Religious Institutions Criticized at Barcelona Conference for ‘Impeding’ HIV Prevention Efforts
Although religion was not "a prominent theme" at the XIV International AIDS Conference in Barcelona, Spain, which ended on Friday, the Roman Catholic Church and other world religions and denominations were "criticized" for failing to discuss HIV/AIDS openly, for preaching "unrealistic" morals and for "impeding efforts" to stop the spread of HIV, the AP/Nando Times reports. Raymond Martin of Christian Connections for International Health said the Roman Catholic ban on condoms "came up all the time" at the conference. Youth from around the world who appeared with former President Clinton on an MTV special on HIV/AIDS that aired on Sunday also mentioned as one of their "key complaints" that religious leaders prevent young people from accessing condoms and information on HIV/AIDS. However, Martin said the condom prohibition and criticism is "only part of the reality." He noted that religiously affiliated groups "often" supply care for people with HIV/AIDS and AIDS orphans. Religious groups have also played a "significant part" in reducing HIV infection rates in Uganda and other countries through programs that teach "sexual restraint," he said. He acknowledged that some of the criticism at the conference, which he said verged on "religion bashing," was not completely unwarranted and noted that some Protestant leaders have admitted that they have been "slow to adapt to the grim realities of AIDS" (Socolovsky, AP/Nando Times, 7/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.