Catholic Church’s Teachings of Abstinence Only ‘Fail-Safe’ Way To Prevent HIV Spread, Pope Benedict XVI Says
Pope Benedict XVI on Friday in a speech to African bishops said that abstinence and fidelity are the only "fail-safe" ways to prevent the spread of HIV, the AP/Guardian reports. Speaking about the African HIV/AIDS epidemic for the first time since being elected pontiff, the pope said, "The Catholic Church has always been at the forefront both in prevention and in treatment of this illness," adding that "the traditional teaching of the church has proven to be the only fail-safe way to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS" (Simpson, AP/Guardian, 6/10). Although some Catholic clergy have suggested that the use of condoms to curb HIV transmission would be the "lesser of two evils," the pope said contraception is one of many trends contributing to a "breakdown of sexual morality," BBC News reports. "It is of great concern that the fabric of African life, its very source of hope and stability, is threatened by divorce, abortion, prostitution, human trafficking and a contraception mentality," the pope said (BBC News, 6/10). Speaking to senior clergy from South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Namibia and Lesotho, the pope urged the bishops to fight the epidemic that "not only kills but seriously threatens the economic and social stability of the continent" (Reuters AlertNet, 6/10). Benedict XVI's speech was aligned with the position of his predecessor Pope John Paul II, who condemned condom use and encouraged abstinence and fidelity as the only means of halting the pandemic (SAPA/AFP/Independent Online, 6/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.