Unclear Whether Vatican Will Issue Document on Condom Use To Prevent HIV Transmission, Cardinal Says
A recent papal study on HIV prevention and condom use "shows the desire of the pope" to fight HIV/AIDS and demonstrates that "he is not indifferent to this difficult problem," though it is not clear whether the Vatican will issue a document on the subject, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, head of the Vatican office for heath care, said Wednesday at an HIV/AIDS conference sponsored by the U.S. embassy to the Holy See, the AP/WTOP reports (D'Emilio, AP/WTOP, 12/20). Barragan in April said that the pope had asked the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care and other scientists and theologians to study condom use as a means of HIV prevention and that the Vatican expects to release a document on the subject. Although some Catholic clergy have suggested that the use of condoms to curb HIV transmission would be the "lesser of two evils," the pope in a June 2005 speech to African bishops said contraception is one of many trends contributing to a "breakdown of sexual morality." He added that abstinence and fidelity are the only "fail-safe" ways to prevent the spread of HIV (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/6). Abstaining from sex before marriage and fidelity in marriage are vital weapons in the fight against HIV/AIDS, Barragan said. According to Karen Stanecki, senior adviser to UNAIDS, U.N. officials are "very pleased that Pope Benedict has been speaking more about AIDS in his speeches" (AP/WTOP, 12/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.