UN Welcomes Papal Concessions on Condom Use

The Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Michel Sidibé, welcomed the reported comments of Pope Benedict XVI in which he reportedly justified the use of condoms to reduce HIV infection risk.

“This move recognizes that responsible sexual behaviour and the use of condoms have important roles in HIV prevention.

“Together we can build a world with zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.”

UNAIDS supports the use of all proven HIV prevention methods in pursuit of its goal of wiping out the 7,000 new HIV infections that occur each day.

The Vatican news agency related the comments of the Pope on condom use thus:

…The Pope clearly states that he then did not want to take a position on the issue of condoms in general, but he wanted to state emphatically that the problem of AIDS can not be solved with only the distribution of condoms, because you have to do much more: to prevent , to educate, assist, advise and stay close to people…

The Pope insists that to concentrate on condoms is tantamount to trivializing sexuality, which loses its meaning as an expression of love between individuals and becomes like a “drug”…

…the Pope does not reform or change the Church’s teaching, but putting it in perspective reaffirms the value and dignity of human sexuality as an expression of love and responsibility…

At the same time, the Pope considered an exceptional situation in which the exercise of sexuality represents a real risk to the lives of others. In this case, the Pope does not morally justify the exercise of disordered sexuality, but believes that the use of condoms to reduce the risk of infection is “a primary responsibility,” a “first step on the road to a more human sexuality”.

In This Story: HIV

The human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV) are two species of Lentivirus (a subgroup of retrovirus) that infect humans. Over time, they cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a condition in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive.

Without treatment, average survival time after infection with HIV is estimated to be 9 to 11 years, depending on the HIV subtype. In most cases, HIV is a sexually transmitted infection and occurs by contact with or transfer of blood, pre-ejaculate, semen, and vaginal fluids. Research has shown (for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples) that HIV is untransmittable through condomless sexual intercourse if the HIV-positive partner has a consistently undetectable viral load.

Non-sexual transmission can occur from an infected mother to her infant during pregnancy, during childbirth by exposure to her blood or vaginal fluid, and through breast milk. Within these bodily fluids, HIV is present as both free virus particles and virus within infected immune cells.

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