Thursday, March 19, 2009

Harvard AIDS Prevention Researcher: Pope is Right on Ineffectiveness of Condoms in Preventing HIV / AIDS

Kathryn Jean Lopez reports at NRO:
“We have found no consistent associations between condom use and lower HIV-infection rates, which, 25 years into the pandemic, we should be seeing if this intervention was working.”

So notes Edward C. Green, director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, in response to papal press comments en route to Africa this week.

Benedict XVI said, in response to a French reporter’s question asking him to defend the Church’s position on fighting the spread of AIDS, characterized by the reporter as “frequently considered unrealistic and ineffective”:
I would say that this problem of AIDS cannot be overcome with advertising slogans. If the soul is lacking, if Africans do not help one another, the scourge cannot be resolved by distributing condoms; quite the contrary, we risk worsening the problem. The solution can only come through a twofold commitment: firstly, the humanization of sexuality, in other words a spiritual and human renewal bringing a new way of behaving towards one another; and secondly, true friendship, above all with those who are suffering, a readiness — even through personal sacrifice — to be present with those who suffer. And these are the factors that help and bring visible progress.
“The pope is correct,” Green told National Review Online Wednesday, “or put it a better way, the best evidence we have supports the pope’s comments. He stresses that “condoms have been proven to not be effective at the ‘level of population.’”

“There is,” Green adds, “a consistent association shown by our best studies, including the U.S.-funded ‘Demographic Health Surveys,’ between greater availability and use of condoms and higher (not lower) HIV-infection rates. This may be due in part to a phenomenon known as risk compensation, meaning that when one uses a risk-reduction ‘technology’ such as condoms, one often loses the benefit (reduction in risk) by ‘compensating’ or taking greater chances than one would take without the risk-reduction technology.”

Green added: “I also noticed that the pope said ‘monogamy’ was the best single answer to African AIDS, rather than ‘abstinence.’ The best and latest empirical evidence indeed shows that reduction in multiple and concurrent sexual partners is the most important single behavior change associated with reduction in HIV-infection rates (the other major factor is male circumcision).”

[Read the whole thing]
(emphasis added)

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At 3/19/2009 1:24 PM, Blogger Matthew Siekierski said...

Shockingly, the Catholic Church has been right all along.

Bah...but what does the Pope know anyway? < /sarcasm>

This could be helpful for me in a discussion over at the American Papist...

At 3/19/2009 1:27 PM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

Yeah, imagine that. The Truth turns out to be true.

At 3/19/2009 4:04 PM, Anonymous National organisation circumcision information resource centre of northern ireland said...

the idea that male circumcision reduces the transmission of HIV is proganda lead by researchers largely from circumcised cultures. If male circumcision was effective then why has America got on of the highest rates of HIV in the developed world?

At 3/19/2009 7:56 PM, Blogger craig said...

Catholic Bishop Kevin Dowling of South Africa has something to say to the Pope about his harmful statement:

"I would say that, like him, I believe in the ideals of abstaining from sex before marriage and remaining faithful to your partner within a stable marriage relationship. My problem is that in the desperate situations where I work, the promotion of these ideals does not meet the need. We, instead, need a more realistic approach, to be consistently pro-life from conception to death. I've sat with vulnerable women for years in their shacks, have seen them and the babies in their arms dying of AIDS. Their hopelessness has seared my heart and spirit. I believe Jesus's injunction to the Pharisees applies to me. He said that they are the ones who put impossible burdens on the shoulders of their people but will they lift a finger to help them carry them? Not they. I want to be the one who lifts a finger."


At 3/19/2009 9:06 PM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

How about addressing - with arguments and facts rather than emotionalism - the actual content of this post? Which is that the director of Harvard's AIDS prevention research program has validated the Pope's allegedly "harmful comments".

Is the Harvard guy wrong in his findings? If so, prove it.

At 3/20/2009 8:29 AM, Blogger craig said...

Condom use = promiscuity = everyone will get AIDS is not a study, its a prediction.

Even Anthony Zimmerman grudgingly concedes that condom usage decreases the spread of HIV in the short term.

Green claims there are "surveys" that show HIV rates increased along with increased condom usage.

Where are they?

The problem with HIV in Africa is not that Africans were celibate before the WHO distributed condoms.

Also, condom distribution is only part of a comprehensive program to battle the HIV virus. PEPFAR and other organizations/charities aren't just airlifting condoms to Africa and walking away. They are educating people about how AIDS is spread AND preaching about the importance of abstinence/monogamy.

At 3/20/2009 10:45 AM, Blogger Goreds said...

You have to be careful what you say, Jay. Saying that the "truth turns out to be true is a misunderstanding of what the man said. He said, "the best evidence we have supports the pope’s comments." What happens if new evidence arises that contradicts what the pope has said?

I don't think the Church's moral reasoning behind the rejection of condom use is sound at all. I can obviously concede that condoms are not proving effective as a means to prevent AIDS at the population level. I do not think, however, than is anything dehumanizing or objectifying about a married couple choosing to use a condom, however. I know plenty of married couples that do so, and it has not had any discernible negative effect on their marriage or on them individually. As such, there is nothing inherently immoral about these couples using condoms.

Whether or not the larger society uses them responsibly is largely irrelevant. People can abuse any good thing. That does not mean that the good thing must be evil in all cases.

At 3/20/2009 11:19 AM, Anonymous paul zummo said...

"I know some married couples that use condoms and they seem happy" sure sounds like a rock-solid foundation to disregard 2,000 years of Church teaching.

At 3/20/2009 12:09 PM, Blogger Matthew Siekierski said...

We don't need studies to see what has happened in the past 25 years. Look at the infection rates in places where condoms have been widely distributed and compare with rates where abstinence/fidelity have been promoted. The difference is start, and telling.

At 3/20/2009 4:59 PM, Blogger Goreds said...

News flash, Paul. Not everyone is Catholic. How could you expect someone who is not Catholic to simply accept 2,000 years of Church history? That is why the Church's stance on faith and morals irritates me. The leaders of the Church think that the Church can never be wrong on these matters, regardless of how bad the reasoning might be. If the Church was THE authority on natural law, then it would be able to produce arguments that would be able to convince people. Simply saying that the Catholic Church has taught something for a very long time simply does not cut it.

At 3/21/2009 3:01 PM, Blogger Matthew Siekierski said...

Goreds, we know that not everyone is Catholic. Now explain why non-Catholics would listen to what the Pope says about condom use. Or why the fact that not everyone is Catholic should be reason for the Catholic Church to change its teaching on life issues and morality.


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