March 17, 2009
Category: HIV & AIDS
Human Rights Campaign Responds to Pope Benedict’s Remarks that Condoms Increase HIV Infections
Religion and Faith Director Harry Knox: "The Pope's statement that condoms don't help control the spread of HIV, but rather condoms increase infection rates, is hurting people in the name of Jesus."
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, responded today to remarks made by Pope Benedict XVI while traveling to Africa, where he claimed that condoms increase HIV infections. Talking to the Associated Press, Benedict said the Roman Catholic Church is in the forefront of the battle against AIDS. "You can't resolve it with the distribution of condoms," the Pope said. "On the contrary, it increases the problem."
"The Pope's statement that condoms don't help control the spread of HIV, but rather condoms increase infection rates, is hurting people in the name of Jesus," said Harry Knox, director of the Human Rights Campaign's Religion & Faith Program. "On a continent where millions of people are infected with HIV, it is morally reprehensible to spread such blatant falsehoods. The Pope's rejection of scientifically proven prevention methods is forcing Catholics in Africa to choose between their faith and the health of their entire community. Jesus was about helping the marginalized and downtrodden, not harming them further."
About 22 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are infected with HIV, according to UNAIDS. In 2007, three-quarters of all AIDS deaths worldwide were there, as well as two-thirds of all people living with HIV.
The Pope's remarks come in the same week the Washington Post reported at least 3 percent of residents in the District of Columbia have HIV or AIDS, elevating the disease to a "severe" epidemic.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.