Pope Benedict Tells the Truth About AIDS

Medical journals would rather lie than agree with the Pope.

The powerful forces of political correctness in modern American life are often aligned with money.  The National Science Foundation is beginning to worry about grants going to a gender-balanced research groups as opposed to finding the best researchers, for example, and their peer review system guarantees that nothing really innovative will ever be funded.

Now we've seen that even the Pope can be criticized when he makes a statement that doesn't line up with current academic thinking.  The Italian magazine Tempi published an article with the fascinating though not entirely grammatical title: "Liberal academic Edward Green: the Pope is right about Aids and condom".

It seems that Pope Benedict has roiled the forces of political correctness:

During his latest visit to Africa pope Benedict XVI told the journalists: "Condom distribution is not the solution to Aids, on the contrary they worsen it". An editorial comment of The Lancet retorted that the Pope's comment was "outrageous and wildly inaccurate".

The Lancet is a respected British medical journal.  For the Lancet to assert that the Pope's statement that condom distribution programs make AIDS worse is "wildly inaccurate," one would assume that they had hard evidence that his statement was, in fact, incorrect.

It turns out, however, that AIDS researchers don't like citing existing evidence that might suggest that their favorite programs don't work.  Unlike the Lancet, Tempi felt it only fair to do a little actual journalism and interviewed Harvard Professor Edward Green to get his learned views.  The professor said:

Benedict XVI tells the truth about fighting the plague of the millennium in Africa: fidelity and abstinence promotion are better weapons than preservatives. [emphasis added]

Although it makes sense for any given individual to use condoms to reduce his chances of getting an infection, it doesn't follow that condom distribution programs make any difference at the national level:

There's no evidence at all that condoms have worked as a public health intervention intended to reduce HIV infections, at the "level of population."  ...  Major articles published in Science, The Lancet, British Medical Journal, and even Studies in Family Planning have reported this finding since 2004. [emphasis added]/span>

Not only is the Pope correct, his observation is old news, having been reported in the Lancet itself as far back as 2004.  Why, then would the Lancet call the Pope's statement "wildly inaccurate?"  Condoms merely reduce risk for an individual, and in the aggregate don't alter infection rates, whereas abstinence and marital fidelity eliminate risk and are known to reduce the spread of AIDS.

Experience with family planning programs showed long ago that in the real world, condoms had a 75-80% failure rate.  A woman can only become pregnant at certain times of her cycle but AIDS can be transmitted at any time.  Not only that, the AIDS virus is a lot smaller than sperm.  The bottom line is that the overall effectiveness of condoms in preventing AIDS and other sexual diseases can't be guaranteed.

It's simply not possible to have complete sexual freedom and prevent AIDS at the same time.  Experience shows that very few people practice consistent condom use no matter how hard it's pushed, and even then, the best condoms can offer is risk reduction, not risk avoidance.

The simple truth is that the Pope is entirely right - sexual behavior will have to change if the AIDS epidemic is to be contained.  This is not a welcome message.

The professor believes that the Pope was also correct in saying that condom distribution helps AIDS spread:

We do have studies that show how inconsistent condom use - which is also typical condom use - is worse than no condom use.  And there is a prospective study in Uganda showing that intense condom promotion leads to riskier sexual behavior, along with suggestive evidence that this occurs elsewhere.

In other words, condoms are like air bags - users feel safer so they take more risks.  When air bags were first introduced, drivers went faster because they felt that the air bags would protect them from the consequences of their folly, the net result being more fatalities, not fewer.  Similarly, people feel that condoms work a lot better than they really do, so condom programs increase the rate of promiscuous sex and make the epidemic worse.

The Pope's old-fashioned message about marital fidelity turns out to be spot on.  No wonder that those who've made a religion of sexual liberation and libertinism are so upset!

Why are we not surprised to hear that Prof. Green's research contract with Harvard has been abruptly cut off?  It doesn't seem to matter how many people die of AIDS so long as academics are permitted to hold to their cherished illusions.  What chance has truth against the forces of political correctness?

How sad that the Lancet would lie about the Pope's message when the truth lies in their own archives!  The choice is clear - be politically correct and get AIDS through promiscuity; or go with the Pope, be monogamous, and avoid AIDS.  Political correctness brings its own reward.

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for Scragged.com and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Foreign Affairs.
Reader Comments
"the Pope is right"??? my, how times have changed. OF COURSE the pope is right, you jerks. he's THE POPE.
September 29, 2009 9:16 AM
Whether you think he's infallible or not, you have to respect the fact that the Pope has ended up at the top of an organization full of very smart guys and he has no distractions due to wife or children. His organization had a library whose records go back thousands of years, so he has LOTS of history to draw on. It's no surprise that he comes up with some pretty significant truths. What's too bad is that so few listen to what he says.
October 7, 2009 4:39 PM
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