South African Catholic Church condemns condom use
January 29 2005 12:00 AM ET
The South African Catholic Church this week said that condom use promotes promiscuity and is not a church-approved strategy to fight the spread of HIV in the country where more than 5 million people are already infected with the virus. And despite numerous studies showing that condom use can prevent HIV infections up to 95% of the time if used consistently and correctly, South African cardinal Wilfred Napier also said there is no proof that condoms can stop HIV transmission. "Can you show me one example where condoms have stopped the spread of AIDS?" he asked. "If you look at South Africa, millions have been spent promoting condoms, and we have one of the highest rates in the world. By promoting condoms, we are promoting immoral behavior."
The South African AIDS activist group Treatment Action Campaign blasted Napier's statements and the position of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference that condom use is to be discouraged in the country. "The cardinal is coming with a stupid message. [The truth is that] either you use a condom or face premature death," TAC spokesman Denis Matwa told South Africa's Business Day. "It's a sorry situation to find a person of such influence preaching such a message. We are a very sexually active nation. If you divide the number of condoms that is freely available to the public, it is not enough."