If you get most of your sex and health advice from world renowned boxers-turned-politicians-turned-pop-stars listen up, Manny Pacquiao has a message for you:
“God said, ‘Go forth and multiply.' He did not say, ‘Go and have just one or two children. It's sinful to use condoms and commit abortion."
Those were the words the Pac Man delivered to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and under most circumstances I'd shake my head at yet another ill-informed and dangerously infliuential person campaigning against life-saving contraceptives, but in this case a little thing called the facts are giving me pause.
You see, while nearly every country in the world exhibits a direct correlation between the percentage of the population that uses condoms and the percentage that has HIV/AIDS, the Philippines is one of the rare exceptions. According to the United Nations, the Philippines exhbits both some of the lowest rates of condom use and rates of disease, with less than 0.1 percent of the adult population estimated to be HIV-positive.
Researchers and public health officials are baffled by the Phillipines phenomenon, and there have been repeated allegations that the government is systematically downplaying the statistics, but until we have proof otherwise, we have to take the statistics at face value.
So while I almost can't believe I'm about to say this, maybe, just this one time, Manny Pacquiao's right. Maybe he knows his country best. Maybe, for whatever reason, the people of the Philippines respond to anti-condom policies like no other place on Earth.
Or maybe Manny's a part-time politician who doesn't really understand what he's talking about. Yeah, maybe, just maybe, that's it. Actually, I'd bet on it.