Catholics Call for an End to Second-Class HIV-Prevention Programs
Why not provide condoms?
“The XIX International AIDS conference this week in Washington, DC, has highlighted the involvement of faith-based organizations in providing AIDS care around the world,” said Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice. “Catholic people and organizations have been on the front lines of providing care and treatment for many years—and the Vatican claims that Catholic agencies provide 25 percent of AIDS care globally.
“But for many Catholics and others who work for organizations sponsored by the Catholic church, their efforts to provide comprehensive prevention have been hindered by the intransigence of some Catholic leaders on the question of condoms.
“Now that the pope has acknowledged that condoms are a moral choice in preventing the spread of HIV—and we must be clear that this is exactly what he said—we must do what we can to capitalize on that statement.
“Many donors, both public and private, have been generous in their support of agencies that provide prevention and treatment. People of faith around the world, including Catholics, overwhelmingly support the provision of condoms in government-sponsored or -funded programs for HIV & AIDS. We must demand that the services provided by the recipients of public funding give people all the tools they need to live longer, healthier lives, and to protect the people they care about. This means no more loopholes for grant recipients who refuse to provide condoms.
“The Condoms4Life campaign recognizes that condoms are not a panacea. However, they are very effective in preventing the spread of HIV and must be made available in every government-funded program. As with other diseases, the disenfranchised and the poor are most affected by HIV & AIDS. Development and donor agencies must ensure these people are not further marginalized by getting second-class services from publicly funded programs.
“The important and ongoing work of achieving a world without AIDS isn’t done just by faith-based organizations. This work is carried out by many people of many faiths and people of no faith. On one thing almost all of us can agree: condoms help prevent the spread of HIV. Together we can make a difference if we ensure that our governments include condoms in all HIV & AIDS prevention and treatment programs. Millions of lives depend on it.”
Condoms4Life is an unprecedented worldwide public education effort to raise public awareness about the devastating effect of the bishops’ ban on condoms.