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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Pope John Paul II and the AIDS Crisis: Where's the Connection?

Everybody should read up on this gem from Michael Cook. Using statistics, historical data, logic and very understandable writing, Mr. Cook indisputably sinks the nasty attacks on Pope John Paul II concerning AIDS in Africa. Some samples:
 Superimposing maps of prevalence of AIDS on prevalence of Catholicism is enough to sink the link between the Catholic Church and AIDS. In the hospice which is Swaziland nowadays, only about 5 per cent of the population is Catholic. In Botswana, where 37 per cent of the adult population is HIV infected, only 4 per cent of the population is Catholic. In South Africa, 22 per cent of the population is HIV infected, and only 6 per cent is Catholic. But in Uganda, with 43 per cent of the population Catholic, the proportion of HIV infected adults is 4 per cent (9). .... A recent study of condom use in the developing world in the journal Studies in Family Planning summed up the situation with these damning words: "no clear examples have emerged yet of a country that has turned back a generalised epidemic primarily by means of condom promotion" (16). This is most clearly seen in southern Africa. High HIV transmission rates have continued despite high rates of condom use. In Botswana, says Professor Norman Hearst, of the University of California at San Francisco, condom sales rose from one million in 1993 to 3 million in 2001 while HIV prevalence amongst urban pregnant women rose from 27 per cent to 45 percent. In Cameroon condom sales rose from 6 million to 15 million while HIV prevalence rose from 3 per cent to 9 per cent. In fact, the history of AIDS in Uganda supports the Church's belief that abstinence and fidelity within marriage are actually the best ways to fight AIDS. In 1991, the infection rate in Uganda was 21 per cent. Now, after years of a simple, low-cost program called ABC, it has dropped to about 6 per cent.
Go. Read the full article. Incidentally, I blogged about the Ugandan ABC program here. That was some time ago, but it's got some interesting links that are also must-reads, including a more professional report on it. I also linked off to this research report by Dr. Edward C. Green of Harvard University with his findings on how the ABC program worked. It is significant that Dr. Green conducted his research under a USAID project. Unfortunately, his findings were shelved and a new researcher, more sympathetic to condom promotion, was brought in to replace Dr. Green.


Michael said...

I just wanted to say that I find your blog quite good, as a fellow Melbourne Catholic. Keep it up!

Jeff Tan said...

Thank you very much. As I don't blog as regularly as others, please keep tabs on the bigger and busier blogs out there, like the ones in my list (right margin of the page). Their forums are busy and there's always something to learn, especially in well-moderated ones like Amy Wellborn's and Jimmy Akin's. Unfortunately, my favorite Mark Shea is on leave from his blog while finishing a book. After that, expect great discussions on his blog again.