Aids in Africa and Contraception

I wonder if the keen minds here can help me?

I found this recent report:

The article explains the Catholic position well, that condoms in Africa don’t work and that re-education is having an effect where giving out condoms makes things work.

Then a friend cited this article:

As evidence that the original piece I linked to their was misleading, because it says that condoms don’t work, and the second article proves they do.

Anyone know more about this than me???

Obviously the second article is disinformation.

I figured as much; is it demonstrably so?

Unfortunately, you can cite just as many articles as against it, each with their own “statistical” information. It’s hard to find an unbiased article.

The fact is, condoms ARE effective, when people use them correctly. Believe it or not, you can’t hand out condoms, not give any education, and expect people to use them properly and safely. When NOT used safely and properly, they can tear and break and leak, which defeats the whole purpose of wearing them in the first place.

In addition, the more one uses them, the more one increases their chance of having a ‘condom-mishap’ and being contaminated.

I have an article in physical form I got out of a magazine which states every study since 2001 has found that condoms have actually increased the rate of STDs and unplanned pregnancy. Even when used correctly! The gist of it was that people have been for years told about condoms and “safe sex”. So, more people are having more sex using condoms thinking they’re safe. But to have more sex with more people will increase the chances of having a failure event.

But yeah, its very hard to find a non-bias article. Its a shame really. Even if a study found that condoms were fantastic it woudlnt’ make them moral, but it would mean less brow bashing over their efficacy.

To the OP, Africa is a difficult situation, the high rate of HIV and unplanned pregnancy is one thing, and throwing condoms at them won’t really help, instead, education is needed to change the mindset to be one of faithfulness and chasitidy until marriage. Of course, we see the same thing in the West, only with less HIV.

I think both articles are correct, and don’t contradict one another. The second article doesn’t say that HIV is on the decline in South Africa, just that the rate of new infections is slowing down.

At an individual level, condoms help to prevent the transmission of HIV. But at a population level, they may stabilize the incidence of HIV, but not reduce it. This is why the standard HIV prevention program in other countries is called ABC: Abstinence, Be Faithful, use Condoms.

Abstinence is best, but if you can’t or won’t do that, then keep monogamous. And use condoms whenever you have sex, because you don’t know where your partner has been and whether he or she is infected, even in marriage. This is the basic format for international HIV/AIDS prevention programs, so behavior change is very much part of international prevention programs.

BTW, Uganda’s “zero grazing” ad campaign (promoting monogamy) is often cited as being responsible for that country’s drop in HIV incidence. But a small quibble with the First Things article is that Uganda abandoned that program, and HIV was on the rise, even before the arrival of international prevention programs.

Both articles are correct, the main issue in why condoms will not work in places in Africa is due to education. Were are seeing that in more educated areas that condoms are working to a degree. Condoms will only work with a full education and training. In the end, condoms will only keep HIV alive, may lessen it, but not eradicate it.

Also condoms in this case are not a contraception, but a Personal Protective Device (PPD). While it may seem minor, in terms of morality its quite a big difference.

Condoms are absolutely contraception, what are you talking about? It’s not an abortifacient if that’s what you mean in terms of the “big difference.” Both using condoms and say, hormonal birth control, are gravely wrong, but I suppose you can argue that at least condoms don’t compound that first grave sin with another in the form of potential very early abortion.

The situation with Africa has been tricky for some time, but I think given that raising the populace’s education level dramatically is quite impossible, I think providing the easiest to understand bit of prevention education is best. Quite simply: Be faithful to your spouse… oh and probably test before you get married given the prevalence.

The toughest part of this whole situation is the fact that rape is so pervasive in Africa and while transmission from female to male is rare, it does indeed happen. And, let’s face it, male on female rape is NOT the only rape that’s taking place on that continent in abundance. The Canon Law is still clear on the matter of using condoms even between spouses when one has a disease, it’s explaining it in a sensitive way that’s so difficult.

Here is my analogy. Life is in some ways like a beautiful country laced with deadly minefields. Careless and/or ignorant steps can kill you.

Condom distribution strategies are like mounting a massive campaign to distribute tourniquets to everybody to prevent bleeding to death when people step on a mine.

The Church looks on and says “Uh guys, maybe we should be teaching people how to find the mines and not step on them in the first place? It turns out we have this free and 100% effective method of detecting them that merely requires some education and self discipline.” Amazingly, all we get is flak for that from the people who are focused on distributing tourniquets.

Thats not true, they are not always a contraceptive nor are they intrinsically evil. As again, they are first and foremost a PPD, with contraceptive uses, but also STD prevention. Only intentional ABC is intrinsically evil in a marriage.

Can you show where Canon law specifically rules out the PPD action of condoms for STD prevention in a marriage?

Also, to clarify, an unintentional abortion that is the result of medication or actions does not hold a moral evil as a intentional abortion on demand.

You’re sort of highlighting the exceptions to the rule here though in all honesty aren’t you Jermosh.

Jermosh, since you are the one, apparently, asserting that the use of a condom within marriage to prevent the spread of disease is licit, perhaps you could show us some authoritative Church document which supports this interpretation, rather than readers having to prove that canon law does not permit it.

How do you reconcile your position with HV 13: “. . . an act of mutual love which impairs the capacity to transmit life which God the Creator, through specific laws, has built into it, frustrates His design which constitutes the norm of marriage, and contradicts the will of the Author of life. Hence to use this divine gift while depriving it, even if only partially, of its meaning and purpose, is equally repugnant to the nature of man and of woman, and is consequently in opposition to the plan of God and His holy will.” and

HV 14: " . . the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children" and " . . to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general."

I can’t think of any reason why one would not want to educate people about mines AND provide tourniquets to those who might benefit from them.

Bomb difusers study hard to learn how to be as safe as possible around bombs - they also wear protective gear.  They don't wear protective gear instead of learning about bombs, they do both.  Hopefully their knowledge (or their commitment to chastity) will protect them.  If it fails, that's where the armoured suit (or condom) comes in - or so would say any proponent of contraception that you mentioned this logic to.

Contraception is wrong because it frustrates God’s purpose for the marital act. It is not wrong because it is or isn’t effective at preventing disease or pregnancy. We should focus on what the Church teaches about copntraception and why instead of basing arguments on reasons unrealted to what the church teaches.

Thanks for the feedback, but I think you underestimate the Church’s wisdom on the matter. You are entirely correct about why contraception is fundamentally wrong. But in choosing to focus only on that fact, I think you fail to recognize the additional reasons that a condom focused STD prevention strategy is misguided. Nowhere in my analogy, did I discuss a bomb squad, nor is there a NEED for one in the scenario I outlined (You don’t use the bomb squad to disarm a mine, you use automated detonation equipment). We’ve got a 100% effective method for detecting mines so that you don’t step on them. Any fallback plan is irrelevant and a distraction from the REAL solution to the problem.

Just by virtue of introducing the condom as a fallback plan (or tourniquet in the analogy), you undermine the motivation for sticking to the 100% effective solution. Condoms only work if the human behavior is fixed rather than variable. As catholics, we don’t believe in fixed human behavior (fate), we believe in free will. When you tell someone, OK if you don’t feel like living up to chastity on any given day, at least fall back on the condom to protect you, you are increasing the odds that that person will be promiscuous. Why not, you just told him the condom would protect him from consequences!

Personally, I think the best approach is one based on chastity and faithfulness. But this can ALSO include information about condoms, why so many people think condoms are the answer and why they are NOT the answer and are only a paper thin shield against the fatal consequences of promiscuity. Education is better than ignorance. We do people a disservice if we pretend things like condoms don’t exist in our adult education STD fighting efforts. But we do them a WORSE disservice if we give them the impression that a condom WILL protect them from the consequences of their poor behavior. It’s an iffy proposition at BEST.

Bomb squads DO disarm mines. Every year mines show up in Europe and elsewhere that shouldn't be detonated where they lie.  
Why not just provide the facts and leave it at that?  Condoms can prevent the transmision of disease durring sexual intercourse.  Seatbelts can prevent serious injury in  car accidents.  Condoms and setbelts aren't bad thinkgs because they don't always work, ofr because they may in some cases provide a false sense of security and embolden a person towards comitting more risky behavior than he might have otherwise.  Condoms are wrong because the Church says they are - no more no less.  anything else you come up with can be defeated, at least on the personal level.  

There we agree. Condoms do not make intercourse safe, they make it marginally safer than it was without the condom. The safest choice for someone who’s primary goal in life is to avoid an STD would be to never have sex. Condoms are certainly imperfect at preventing the transmision of disease. They are not as bad as some would have you believe, they are not as good. Let’s educate the masses honestly and without distorting the facts. I’ve seen some people make it sound as if condoms always work. I’ve seen others speak as if they think that yearly efficacy rates for condoms can be applied to individual acts of intercourse. Neither of these is right.

In 2006, the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry (PCHCM), headed by Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, prepared a 200 page review of the issue of condoms and HIV, and how it fit with Church teachings. It, reportedly, presented a spectrum of views. That document was submitted to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in November, 2006. The CDF was supposed to review it, add their own comments, and pass it along to Pope Benedict.

That’s the last we heard about the document or its findings. The Pope did not any comment about it. Earlier this year, a statement by the #2 person at the PCHCM, Bishop José Luis Redrado, suggests that the document was shelved.

A reporter for the Jesuit magazine America had this take on the situation:

What Bishop Redrado meant but couldn’t say is that the CDF rejected the idea of there being any public change to official church opposition to the use of condoms to prevent Aids. I know this is true, because in 2008, while in Rome, I asked a high-ranking CDF official (it was a private conversation, so I won’t give his name) why nothing had happened with the theological report. “Everyone knows that theologically there is a strong case for clarifying that teaching,” he told me, “but there’s just no way of doing it publicly without it being misunderstood.” Do you mean, I said, that the Vatican feared the headlines that would result? “Exactly,” he said. “It would be confusing for the faithful.” But don’t you think, I pressed him, that if something is doctrinally true, that was more important than whether it was likely to be misunderstood? “But there’s just no way,” he repeated.

There are plenty of links on this issue from theologians, bishops and cardinals about using a PPD in a marriage in the case of HIV. Google them if you want, there are opinions on both sides of the issue.

But lets take the case of therapeutic use of the “pill”, it can be morally licit, and there is no need to abstain from sex during this time in a marriage. How is this any different then using a PPD? In fact, the risk of creating a physical evil such as an untended abortion is removed.

The passages you quoted have no recognition with using a condom as a PPD, only as a contraceptive.

When properly used, condoms are incredibly effective at preventing the spread of AIDS- reducing the risk of transmission by a few orders of magnitude. However, throwing a condom at someone and saying ‘this will protect you’ is as like throwing a kevlar vest on someone and telling them they don’t need to worry about getting shot anymore (contrary to what the movies tell you, a low powered round will probably crack some ribs and a more powerful weapon will kill you).

You need to throw education in with condoms to make them truly effective. While risk compensation is always a problem, I doubt that there are enough hours in the day for those in Africa to have enough sex to overcome the risk reduction that a properly used condom provides.

I think it’s ludicrous to assume that someone would willingly disobey one Church teaching on the sixth commandment (i.e., marital relations are only licit in a valid marriage) and scrupulously obey another Church teaching on the same commandment (i.e., contraception is immoral).

If the past 60 years have shown anything is that accepted and pervasive use of contraception encourages and fosters promiscuity. The Church cannot and will not buy into the lie. Dissenters, get over it.

I do not agree. Things are not wrong because of an arbitrary decree by God. God establishes morality that is rational. We are capable of understanding WHY things are wrong. Things aren’t sinful because they are “on the list.” They are sinful because they are ACTUALLY harmful!

Promiscuity is wrong because it degrades the meaning of sexuality and reduces that person’s capacity for a later healthy sexual bond with a lifelong spouse. It takes the sex act, which is supposed to be a physical manifestation of the total giving of self to the other and makes it a cheap thrill to be exploited. Contraception is wrong primarily because it also makes a lie out of sex. The bodies still speak a language of total giving, but have been altered so that what is said is “This much and NO further for you.”

Apart from marriage, contraception is still wrong because it pretends to be a solution to the obvious negative consequences of promiscuity, but ISN’T. Not only is it horribly flawed in its ability to protect from the negative physical aspects of promiscuity, it does nothing at ALL to protect against the negative spiritual effects of which the physical ones are just a vague reflection. Condoms are a lie in every way.

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