Involvement of Churches, Condom Use Necessary To Fight HIV/AIDS, Opinion Piece Says
HIV/AIDS is "not only a disease" but also a "complex social problem that has considerable impact on development in affected countries," Guenter Apsel, a retired Lutheran minister, writes in an Orlando Sentinel opinion piece in response to a recent piece by Thomas Wenski, chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. According to Apsel, "[H]uge efforts are necessary to overcome" the HIV/AIDS pandemic -- "huge efforts not only by governments but also ... by churches."
Many churches have "now recognized that -- as the result of taboos, stigma and denial -- they have exacerbated" HIV/AIDS, Apsel writes. He adds that during the past few years, "churches have begun new efforts with positive new approaches toward undergoing self-critical reflection and overcoming stigma." However, some churches continue to argue that supporting condom use is "morally unacceptable," according to Apsel. If the highest priority of HIV/AIDS prevention efforts is to save lives, programs that stress abstinence and fidelity "will not be sufficient," Apsel writes, adding, "One must add condom use. Otherwise, you put a doctrine above the goal to 'save lives.'" Apsel concludes, "No misunderstanding, please: 'Use condoms' is not the solution, but it is a way of prevention. The broader approach to this problem must include education, responsibility and much more" (Apsel, Orlando Sentinel, 6/18).