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Monday, September 01, 2008

Behavior, not condoms, will stem AIDS, says Church

An interesting article on sex, religion and the RH bill was written by the Jester-in-Exile. Personally, one of the few blogs I check out every now and then.

Anyway, to the Catholic Church - Here you go again....

Read on:

Behavior, not condoms, will stem AIDS, says Church

By Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:28:00 08/30/2008

MANILA, Philippines -- The Catholic Church wants the health department to stop promoting the use of condoms to prevent the spread of the AIDS-causing HIV virus.

Pangasinan Archbishop Paciano Aniceto, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ Commission on Family and Life, said promoting the use of condoms was "dangerous and ineffective."

He was reacting to a statement of Health Undersecretary Mario Villaverde, who said last week that condom use is one of the most effective ways of stopping the spread of the AIDS-causing HIV virus.

Also, two senators -- Edgardo Angara and Pia Cayetano -- have called on the government to strengthen laws on AIDS prevention and control, including more seriously educating the public on how to avoid it by using protection, such as condoms.

But Archbishop Aniceto relayed the view of the Church in a statement issued on Saturday: “We are constrained to express grave concern over the press statement attributed to Undersecretary of Health Mario Villaverde that the Department of Health will now promote the nationwide use of condoms, allegedly as a means to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.”

Condom use will not effectively protect one from contracting the virus, the prelate said, adding that the prophylactic was not 100-percent foolproof.

“It is the duty of the DOH never to propose for general public use any prophylactic that could increase the incidence of the disease it is supposed to prevent,” the archbishop said.

“It is, therefore, irresponsible, imprudent, and dangerous for the department to declare that the use of the condom, without any change in unhealthy sexual behavior, will prevent sero-positive cases from transmitting HIV/AIDS to their sero-negative spouses,” he added.

The prelate said Villaverde’s statements coincided with the recent population report of the David and Lucille Packard Foundation and the intense debates on the reproductive health bill in the House of Representatives.

“We are inclined to view this as an underhanded way of subverting our strong moral and constitutional objection to the proposed legislation, and confronting the nation with a fait accompli bereft of any moral or constitutional basis,” Aniceto said.

The prelate said the most effective way to prevent the spread of the virus was to have a change in sexual behavior.

The idea of “safe sex,” he said, lulls men and women into complacency, thinking that using condoms would protect them from the disease.

“We must encourage men and women to live morally upright lives, and to practice marital fidelity and chastity within and outside marriage, instead of telling them that risky sexual behavior is acceptable, provided they wear a condom to protect them and their partners from HIV/AIDS,” he added.

The DoH said the country was still under the low prevalence group but the designation was not a cause for comfort. Last year, the health department said an average of 29 new cases is reported each month, an increase from the 20 cases in the previous years.

From 1984 to 2007, the number of registered cases stood at 3,061, with 2,754 still alive.

But the actual figure could be higher, said the DoH and the World Health Organization. In 2007, the two agencies estimated that there could be 7,490 people living with HIV in the Philippines, up from the 6,000 estimate in 2002.

Worldwide, the Vatican is under fire from health advocates for sticking to its hardline stance against artificial contraception, including condoms, in the face of the tragedy of AIDS.
With a report from Cynthia D. Balana