An official with the UN HIV/AIDS Program has blamed the Catholic Church for not stopping the spread of the disease in Central America and dismissed the success of campaigns that promote abstinence.
Far from acknowledging the failure of the UN to stop the disease, Alberto Stella, UNAIDS coordinator for Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, told the Reuters news agency that the Catholic Church’s opposition to condoms has worsened the AIDS epidemic in Latin America.
“In Latin America the use of the condom has been demonized, but if it was used during relations I guarantee the epidemic would be eliminated in the region,” Stella said.
“The fact that young people become sexually active between the ages of 15 and 19 without any sexual education contributes to the spread of the virus, and evidence shows that abstinence does not work,” he claimed.
An estimated 1.7 million people in Latin America are believed to be HIV positive. The greatest numbers of cases are in Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, while Honduras has the most cases in Central America.
According to Carlos Polo, director for Latin America of the Population Research Institute, the statements by Stella are an attempt to deny the failure of the UNAIDS campaigns which are always centered on the use of condoms.
“To accuse the Church of spreading AIDS is absurd because it assumes that one believes the Church is telling young people to have relations without condoms, when in reality the Church is calling on them insistently to live abstinence in the face of the aggressive propaganda by entities such as UNAIDS, which encourage promiscuity under the euphemism of ‘safe-sex’,” Polo said.
Polo pointed out that UNAIDS “cannot speak about the failure of abstinence” because it has never tried to promote it in its campaigns. Throughout the years, the UN “has denied the success of abstinence in the fight against AIDS in Uganda, where together with the Church, the government has been able to stop the spread of the disease by promoting abstinence and fidelity.”