Tuesday, June 29, 2004

What pseudo-scientific crap

And I’m not referring to Cdl. Trujillo or the Vatican. I’m referring to the EU haters in this BBC News article, "EU criticises Vatican's condom 'bigotry'" (BBC NEWS: Mukul Devichand, BBC Panorama, 2004/06/27 10:05:00 GMT)". (Incidentally, I don't know why Devichand doesn't capitalize AIDS.)

The European Union has condemned Catholic Church "bigotry" over the use of condoms to fight HIV. ...

Mr Nielsen said: "They are hurting and bringing into great danger the lives of millions out there."

His comments were in response to a Vatican paper that claimed the HIV virus - which leads to Aids [oy, don't get me started; see Peter Duesberg's book, Inventing the AIDS Virus, to get the rest of the story on this modern epidemiological mythos -- EBB] - can pass through latex condoms and cause infection.

The paper, published by Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family, backs up its claims with scientific references. ...

Cardinal Trujillo, who is known in the Vatican for his hard-line stance on contraception, told Panorama last year: "The Aids virus is roughly 450 times smaller than the sperm."

He said: "Scientists realise that there is a degree of uncertainty - it might be 15%, 18%, or 20%."

In his paper, Cardinal Trujillo argued that there could be "millions of leaking condoms".

He said there was no such thing as safe sex, adding that sex with condoms was like playing "Russian roulette" with Aids.

Cardinal Trujillo also argued that promoting family values would be more effective against HIV than condoms - giving Uganda as an example of a country where abstinence and monogamy had reduced HIV prevalence. ...

Mr Nielsen, EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, said: "This is where bigotry gets into the big discussion."

He condemned the Vatican's "lack of love for human beings" and "unwillingness to take their situation seriously". …

But Bishop Rafael Llano Cifuentes, Auxiliary Bishop of Rio de Janeiro, told the programme "people are being deceived" by the message that condoms can prevent HIV infection.

He said: "The Church is a mother. What mother would allow her son to go on a plane if she knew there was a 15% chance it would crash?"

Here you have a man, a cardinal in the largest Christian fellowship on the planet, whose entire ministerial focus is on the ethics and scientific exploration of sex. He makes a scientifically supported, verifiable, common-sense claim and gets blasted as unloving and backwards. If the EU wants to trump the Vatican on this, they need only demonstrate Cdl. Trujillo et al. were either lying or gravely mislead by faulty research. Whining about the inhumane impracticality of forbidding the use of condoms sounds nice, but is does nothing to reduce the scientific merit of Trujillo’s claims. (Granted, Trujillo may wrong, but I have yet to see countermanding evidence.) Perhaps you've heard the anecdote of the molecular biologists at a cnoference on AIDS. When asked if they would have sex with a condom with an infected person, not one of them raised their hand. Trujillo is merely stating what electron microscopes can show us and what many in the virological world already know.

The complaints by these EU figures betray the same microwave mentality I discussed below in my discussion of contraception. Of course foregoing the ease of condomized sex is an uphill battle. Doing the right thing is seldom as easy as our condom culture would like. The key is not to apply a quick-fix inferior solution (i.e., condoms), but to work for the long-term reorientation of people’s values. Trying to climb up a latex ladder out of the AIDS crisis – which, you must know, is not equivalent to the so-called HIV crisis – only strengthens people’s willingness to play with sex and disease. The faster and farther we push the envelope on public health with such practices as an over-reliance on anti-bacterials and band-aid solution contraceptives, the sooner we will face the health care collapse Laurie Garret so ably discusses in her books, The Coming Plague and Betrayal of Trust.

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