Catholic Cardinal Backs Use of Condoms in Preventing HIV Transmission
Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, a leading candidate to succeed Pope John Paul II, on Sunday in an interview with the Dutch Catholic broadcaster RKK said that in certain circumstances condoms should be used to prevent the spread of HIV, London's Guardian reports. Danneels said he preferred abstinence as a means of HIV prevention but added that if an HIV-positive person had sex without a condom, they would be guilty of a contravention of the sixth commandment -- "thou shalt not kill" (Hooper/Osborn, Guardian, 1/13). Danneels said, "When someone is HIV-positive and his partner says 'I want to have (sexual) relations with you,' then he doesn't have to do it. But if he does, he has to use a condom. Otherwise he will commit a sin" (Associated Press, 1/12). He added, "Protecting oneself against sickness or death is an act of prevention. Morally, it cannot be judged on the same level as when a condom is used to reduce the number of births" (Agence France-Presse, 1/12). The Vatican has not issued a definitive statement on the use of condoms in specific situations to prevent the transmission of HIV, but most Vatican officials who have spoken on the issue are against condom use, Reuters reports (Reuters, 1/12). Danneels' statement clashes with statements made by Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo that were aired last year on a BBC1 program (Guardian, 1/13). Trujillo, president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family, said in an episode of BBC1's "Panorama" program, titled "Sex and the Holy City," which aired on Oct. 12, 2003, "The AIDS virus is roughly 450 times smaller than the spermatozoon. The spermatozoon can easily pass through the 'net' that is formed by the condom. These margins of uncertainty ... should represent an obligation on the part of the health ministries and all these campaigns to act in the same way as they do with regard to cigarettes, which they state to be a danger" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/11/03).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.