The Church and AIDS

I would like to make a commentary on the December 1, 2016 Inquirer editorial “26 New HIV Cases daily”. The article stated: “The Catholic Church shares the responsibility for abetting the HIV/AIDS crisis, with its continued condemnation of condom use because — as its bishops have said repeatedly, the prophylactic might be used by couples as a contraceptive device.”

Before I make my critique of this statement, I would like to advert that the Catholic Church is on the same side as the Inquirer and the state in trying to win the war against HIV/AIDS: we all want our citizens not to get sick of it. It is so unfair to accuse the Catholic Church of promoting HIV/AIDS.

The editors claim that the Church is to blame for the rise in HIV cases because of its condemnation of the use of condoms. This claim is rash and unsupported by evidence. What data and statistics do we have to support the conjecture that condemning the use of condoms has given rise to HIV/AIDS cases? There is a very simplistic reasoning behind the accusation: condemn the use of condoms, then people don’t use them when they have sex, then they get infected. It sounds plausible, but that is not the entire picture.

The Church has a very holistic approach to this problem: it is a problem of attitude and not just technique. Given that, as the editorial rightly asserts, 89 percent of the cases come from homosexual acts, the Church helps these men through education and guidance about the true human meaning of sexuality: that it is ordained to marriage and fruitfulness in life and love. Then the Church also helps these men to live chaste lives and channel their energies to creative work and service to others. There is an international organization called Courage RC that helps men and women who have these tendencies. This advocacy has a very good record in helping men and women avoid HIV/AIDS sans condoms.

The accusation hurled by the editorial is not accurate: it makes people believe that the bishops condemn the use of condoms to prevent HIV infection because it might be used as a contraceptive. This assertion is mixing up two issues that are not related in the case at hand.

One issue is condoms as contraceptives when used by married couples. This is an entirely different discussion and this is not the space to argue about it. The Church is not dissuading the homosexual man to use condoms because it is a contraceptive: obviously it is not a contraceptive in homosexual relations because these acts are cannot conceive life in the first place. The Church is criticizing the use of condoms for the homosexual person because it is simply not the solution: if it really prevented HIV infections, then why is HIV infection on the rise in the rich countries that abound in the use of condoms?

As I have said before, the solution is chastity: the virtue that puts the right order into people’s sexual life. As the editorial rightly attests it involves abstinence and faithfulness to one’s spouse. This is what the Church teaches people and it is doing a good job at teaching people the true meaning of human sexuality ages before the coming of the Reproductive Health Law.

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