Vatican study could help AIDS crisis

We need to teach people how to protect themselves, regardless of their beliefs.

Right now, there are 39.5 million people worldwide with documented infection of HIV. As more people struggle with AIDS each day, it is imperative that people across the globe form a united coalition to educate people about ways to protect their health. This includes the Roman Catholic Church, who has long preached abstinence-only education.

In April, the then Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, stated that condoms were “a lesser evil” in relationships where one partner has HIV or AIDS. Since the comment, the world has speculated that the Roman Catholic Church might change their official stance on condom usage in order to prevent the spread of HIV. When the Vatican will, if at all, make a decision about the issue is still unclear, yet the world is in dire need of the Church’s support on the matter.

The Roman Catholic Church holds two prominent positions in the fight on AIDS. First, the Catholic Church and its many organizations account for 25 percent of AIDS care across the world. On the other hand, the Vatican is against contraceptive use and preaches abstinence as the best way to prevent the spread of HIV.

Although we don’t intend to infringe on the beliefs of a particular religion, there is a clear line drawn between beliefs and a worldwide health epidemic. If the Catholic Church was to come out in support of condom usage in some circumstances, it would create the education and resources needed to truly combat the AIDS epidemic.

What the world needs is a united force that teaches people about the act of sex – including all of the emotional and physical risks that it includes. Besides teaching abstinence-only education, there must be an abstinence-plus curriculum employed everywhere. An abstinence-plus curriculum teaches students that abstaining from sex is a no-fail way to prevent pregnancy and STDs, but also goes on to tell students about how to protect themselves sexually, including contraceptive use.

It is clear that the AIDS epidemic can only be corralled by strongly unified educators and service providers – no matter what individual beliefs may be.