Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A defenestration of the condom-philes


I don't think I've seen a better, more convincing defense of Pope Benedict's perfectly reasonable statement regarding the error of relying on condoms to solve the AIDS crisis in Africa. The article is full of all the grisly details of sub-Saharan Africans' often libertine sexual habits (as well as their often primitive beliefs and practices), and lays out clearly the reasons why relying on condoms to fight AIDS is a failing strategy there. The payoff comes at the end:
UNAIDS, the international agency which coordinates research and treatment for AIDS around the world, is a strong supporter of condoms. Its official position is that: “The male latex condom is the single, most efficient, available technology to reduce the sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.”

Note the stress on the word “technology”. The condom is just a technology. And technology is not much good for changing behaviour.

The West is addicted to technology as a substitute for free will and moral effort. If you eat too much, you get gastric banding surgery. If you’re depressed, you take Prozac. If you’re a smoker, you wear nicotine patches. Here in Africa, this fantasy has collided with the reality of the AIDS crisis. There is no technology to tame sexual desire. There is only self-restraint and faithfulness to your partner. These will eventually rein in AIDS; condoms won’t.

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