The experts say that the solution to the rampant spread of HIV/AIDS is not to ask anyone to exercise self-control, but to distribute a prophylactic device that will enable everyone to engage in sexual license without consequence. For those who ascribe to this principle, the claims of Matthew Hanley and Jokin de Irala's book will seem incomprehensible. "Who could possibly believe that human beings can control their sexual urges? How can anyone remain faithful to a spouse? Doesn't everyone know that the condom is the solution to the problem of AIDS?"
Hanley and de Irala reject this pessimistic view of human nature in their remarkable book, Affirming Love, Avoiding AIDS: What Africa Can Teach the West (The National Catholic Bioethics Center, 2009). They defend the view that the condom is not the solution to the world-wide AIDS crisis. They offer us instead the virtues of chastity and fidelity. They make their case by citing an abundance of scientific and epidemiological evidence. They show that the thoughtlessness of the AIDS establishment, with its huge budgets and access to influential organizations, such as the United Nations, has promoted a plan of containment that has been disastrous for the health and well-being of large populations.
Africa has been the proving ground for these contrasting theories. The African people have shown that it is morality---and not technological interventions---that is the most effective means of reducing HIV/AIDS. Not surprisingly, human beings are capable of self-control. What they need is moral support, not condoms. They need prevention programs that stress the advantages of sexual abstinence and fidelity in marriage. They do not need government agencies encouraging them to believe that they can engage in high-risk conduct with impunity so long as they put their trust in a piece of latex.
Hardly a week passes without some self-appointed moral authority announcing that more money must now be poured into the world-wide effort to distribute condoms. We are told that programs that stress abstinence and fidelity are dangerous frauds. We are told that people who advance these theories are backwards and ignorant. And yet, the evidence is there, plain to see, not only in the medical literature, but also in common sense. Human beings are capable of prolonged periods of abstinence and can respect the bonds of marriage. This is the solution to the world-wide AIDS epidemic.
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Affirming Love, Avoiding AIDS: What Africa Can Teach the West ($17.95) is available from The National Catholic Bioethics Center’s online store at www.ncbcenter.org or by calling 215-877-2660.