Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Church Facilitates The Spread of HIV

Philippines: On Valentine's Day, Philippine government health workers hit the streets of Manila to hand out roses and condoms to passers-by. The message was clear in a country with a relatively small but rapidly growing HIV-positive population: Avoid unprotected sex.

It didn't get far. Within days, leaders of the powerful Roman Catholic Church began urging the faithful to reject condoms. Bishops issued angry statements slamming the Valentine's Day distribution as immoral and called for the resignation of Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral, who ordered the campaign. One archbishop said that Cabral already "has one foot in hell."

Read More: People Will Die

The number of diagnosed HIV/AIDS cases rose to four a day in November and December, up from one or two during the first 10 months of 2009, according to the Health Department. In January, 143 new cases were diagnosed, the largest number recorded in a month.

Without intervention, the nearly 4,600 cases recorded in the Philippines as of January could soar to 30,000 in three years, Cabral said. The figures may be the tip of the iceberg. Cabral said health officials estimate that for every new case recorded, 10 are missed.

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