Wednesday, 23 June 2010

When lives depend on the truth

First Things has today published an article by Matt Hanley: Reducing Risk, Increasing AIDS. Here are the first two paragraphs:
The predominant Western approach to preventing the spread of AIDS in Africa has failed. Though in theory the risk reduction strategies favored by Western governments and aid agencies—handing out condoms, promoting counseling and testing, and treating other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to block HIV transmission—can “work” in theory, they have not done so in practice. In Africa, despite years of promised improvements, they have not brought any downturn at all.

But a handful of African countries have actually forced down the AIDS rates, each of them by changing behavior—particularly reducing sexual partnerships—not through the heavily promoted risk reduction measures.
This point will be familiar to many of you but the approach of Western governments and commercial interests has continued to mask the real picture and indeed convince the public that the Pope or the Catholic Church is responsible for AIDS in Africa. As Hanley concludes:
We should expect our public health authorities not to pass on the prevailing strains of cultural thought uncritically, but to speak against them when people’s futures and their lives depend upon their speaking the truth.

Matt Hanley has also co-authoried a book with Jokin de Irala written a book "Affirming Love Avoiding AIDS. What Africa can teach the West", published by the National Catholic Bioethics Center.
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