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POPE Benedict’s claim that condoms have helped to spread Aids in Africa has raised an outcry, but a brief survey of hard facts in African countries shows he is right.
Between 1989 and 2006 more than four billion condoms were sent to sub-Saharan Africa. By 2004 Dr Norman Hearst of the University of California was able to show a correlation between sales of condoms in different African states and the prevalence of Aids/HIV: higher sales in a given state meant more Aids/HIV.
In South Africa, condom distribution between 1994 and 1998 increased from six million to 198 million, yet between 1997 and 2002 deaths from HIV/Aids rose by 57% in that country.
At a recent count the prevalence of Aids in South Africa was 400 times greater than in Egypt where condoms are little used.
In Uganda, however, a Harvard study showed the rate of HIV infection among pregnant women between the late 1980s and 2001 had dropped from 21%.2 to 6.2%.
The Ugandans reduced HIV/Aids not by recommending condoms but by campaigning to make premarital abstinence and faithful marriage more socially desirable. In the same year that the Ugandan figure dropped to 6.2%, HIV infection in Botswana, which relied on condoms, rose to 38%, six times that of Uganda.
By 2005 Aids in Uganda had dropped to less than 3% among the age group 15-25.
In the real world condoms give no protection for many sexual diseases and only limited protection for the rest. They multiply diseases because they give users a false sense of security so that they grow more reckless and begin to swap partners.
We are speaking here about debilitating, painful and even lethal diseases. In Africa, HIV/Aids has left elderly grandparents looking after their own children and their grandchildren. If we connive at an epidemic in Africa, it may well turn back on ourselves.
Let us recall that one-quarter of the population of the United States now suffers from at least one sexually transmitted disease in a country where there is no shortage of condoms.
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