Condoms cause AIDS

Archbishop Francisco Chimoio, the head of Mozambique’s Catholic Church, talking to the BBC:

“Condoms are not sure because I know that there are two countries in Europe, they are making condoms with the virus on purpose,” he alleged, refusing to name the countries.

“They want to finish with the African people. This is the programme. They want to colonise until up to now. If we are not careful we will finish in one century’s time.”

Around 16% of the country’s population are HIV positive. 37% of women and 84% of men have had casual sex in the past year. When asked, 29% of women and 33% of men said that they used a condom when they last had casual sex.

Update: It’s a good time to re-read Adam Graham-Silverman’s four-part series from 2005, on AIDS in Mozambique. Note, in particular, the US government’s role in downplaying the importance of condoms:

Rules list seven points that condom programs must mention, only one of which actually deals with the use of condoms. The rest involve abstinence, condoms’ limited effectiveness, and ways to reduce the risk of transmission. What’s more, the Bush AIDS initiative restricts distribution of condoms to “high-risk” groups such as sex workers, members of the military, and migrant laborers. It forbids discussing condoms with people under age 14.

These messages have been eagerly taken up by American evangelists:

In the dimly lit church made of mud brick and corrugated metal, the young people gathered here believe it is a given that safe sex is anything but safe.

“From what I know, some condoms have got holes,” said 23-year-old Zodwa Ubisse, rising from a wooden bench to address 20 of her peers. “I’ve tried taking some new ones, but water comes out, so they’re not safe.”

“So abstinence is the key, isn’t it?” summed up Nelda Nhantumbo, the 25-year-old student-teacher, drawing nods and murmurs of assent.

That is the message going out to young people in schools, churches and social clubs across Mozambique, where about 500 people a day become infected with HIV and AIDS. The message is being delivered, in this case, by Baltimore-based World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals, and the United States is paying for the effort.

World Relief’s defense:

  • The church is on the front line in the battle against AIDS – providing 30-70% of sub-Saharan Africa’s health infrastructure.
  • Condoms haven’t worked – abstinence will.
  • We’re pretty moderate really – we don’t mind if hookers play it safe.