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Vatican Needs To Stop Condemning Condoms To Prevent HIV

February 21, 2016

One of those must reads that nearly everyone can agree with.

Why is “permission” being granted to safeguard against one virus, Zika, but not against HIV and Aids? While Zika is horrific, how many lives has Aids claimed and ruined, including babies who are born HIV-positive? A disgrace, then, that, in all these decades, the issue has been persistently dodged by the Vatican. In 2009, Francis’s predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, said that the Aids tragedy could not be solved by the distribution of condoms “which even aggravates the problems”. The following year, Benedict conceded that “male prostitutes” could use condoms.

Again, this was welcomed as a positive step (as are any crumbs from Rome’s table on this issue), though Benedict’s stance did nothing to protect women, children or homosexuals who did not care to class themselves as prostitutes. Last year, Francis said that there were more important things to deal with such as malnutrition, a common and unedifying Vatican swerve.

However, now that Zika has been addressed, surely the Catholic church can’t continue to justify this kind of oblique, unhelpful stance. Where Aids is concerned, what’s stopping the Vatican (and its relatively modern-thinking pope) once and for all untying the issue of conception from protection, and acknowledging the entirely separate role of condoms in preventing the spread of disease, not just for male prostitutes, but for all? In a wider way, acknowledging that, in these modern times, “artificial contraception” has uses (preventing disease; preventing pregnancies affected by disease) that extend far beyond their original contraceptive intent and are, therefore, ethically acceptable.

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