The Catholic Church is killing “millions” because of its teaching on chastity and fidelity in marriage and needs to change its “policy” on banning condoms in the fight against HIV/AIDS, according to a popular and apparently perpetual theme in mainstream journalism.
A short examination, however, of the HIV/AIDS rates of those African countries that have a large Catholic population shows that the Church’s accusers have not done the homework or are deliberately misreporting the facts. The available statistics show that countries with a large Catholic percentage population, show significantly lower rates of HIV/AIDS infections than countries with mostly non-Catholic populations.
2003 statistics from the World Factbook of the US Central Intelligence Agency, shows Burundi at 62% Catholic with 6% AIDS infection rate. Angola’s population is 38% Roman Catholic and has 3.9% AIDS rate. Ghana is 63% Christian, with in some regions as much as 33% Catholic and has 3.1% AIDS rate. Nigeria, divided almost evenly between the strongly Muslim north and Christian and “animist” south, has 5.4% AIDS rate.
Strongly Christian Uganda continues to frustrate condom-pushing NGO’s by maintaining its abstinence and fidelity AIDS prevention programs and one of the lowest rates of AIDS in Africa, at 4.1%. Uganda’s population is listed by the CIA Factbook as 33% Roman Catholic and 33% Protestant.
Of African countries with low Catholic populations, Botswana is typical with 37.3% AIDS, one of the highest in Africa, and 5% of the total population Catholic. In 2003, Swaziland was shown to have a 38.8% AIDS infection rate and only 20% Catholic population.
This is a common myth and one that the facts just do not bear out. Catholic teaching on sexuality does not spread AIDS since Catholic teaching says to have (at most) one partner throughout your life. How would that spread AIDS? If someone is not following the Church’s teaching on sexuality by having multiple partners, how likely are they to say, “I’m going to disobey the Church by sleeping around, but I’ll make up for it by not using a condom.” That’s nonsense.
In fact, the statistics above show that a government working with the Church like Uganda has by pushing Church teaching can have a great positive effect on the spread of AIDS. Those claiming to stand up for the lives of the poor seem to speak either out of ignorance of reality or a desire to spread promiscuity no matter what the cost. Neither is very flattering when they should know better.