International: Lancet calls on Pope Benedict XVI to retract comments on use of condoms

Bloomberg & The Lancet
On his first visit to Africa, the Pope told journalists that the continent's fight against the disease is a problem that “cannot be overcome by the distribution of condoms: on the contrary, they increase it”.
The Vatican felt the heat from an unprecedented amount of international condemnation last week after Pope Benedict XVI made an outrageous and wildly inaccurate statement about HIV/AIDS.
The Pope claimed that the use of condoms may exacerbate the spread of AIDS, saying they “publicly distorted scientific evidence to promote Catholic doctrine.”

“When any influential person, be it a religious or political leader, makes a false scientific statement that could be devastating to the health of millions of people, they should retract or correct the public record,” the medical journal said in an editorial today. “Anything less from Pope Benedict would be an immense disservice to the public and health advocates, including many thousands of Catholics, who work tirelessly to try and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide.”

The religious leader, on his maiden voyage as pontiff to Cameroon and Angola, said more widespread use of condoms won’t prevent the spread of AIDS in Africa. AIDS “is a tragedy that cannot be overcome by money alone, that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems,” the 81-year-old told reporters on March 17.

About 1.7 million people, mostly women, in sub-Saharan Africa became infected with the HIV virus in 2007, bringing the total number of infections in the region to 22.5 million, according to the latest report by UNAIDS, the United Nations program that deals with HIV/AIDS. That’s two-thirds of the global number of people living with the virus.

27 March 2009

Source: Bloomberg & The Lancet