Following up on the previous post about Benedict saying condom distribution aggravated the AIDS epidemic, here are a few references:

Richard Owen’s Times of London report on Benedict’s comments today note that when a Vatican official made similar claims a few years ago he was roundly criticized by health experts:

The World Health Organisation responded at the time by saying that “These incorrect statements about condoms and HIV are dangerous when we are facing a global pandemic which has already killed more than 20 million people, and currently affects at least 42 million.”

The WHO said that “consistent and correct” condom use reduces the risk of HIV infection by 90 per cent.

Check out a November 2006 piece in Esquire, by an economist, Emily Oster: “Three Things You Don’t Know About AIDS in Africa.”

In “AIDS and the Churches: Getting the Story Right,” an April 2008 story in First Things, Edward C. Green and Allison Herling Ruark argue that condoms are not the answer at all. They also cite a 2007 article in The Lancet, the prestigious British medical journal, which listed “Ten Myths” about AIDS prevention, including that condoms are ineffective.

They don’t mention that the author of the piece was James D. Shelton, MD, science advisor at the U.S. Agency for International Development under George W. Bush. Shelton apparently isn’t as categorical about condoms (the Lancet piece is behind a firewall) as the First Things authors, either.

Here too is a point-by-point refutation/clarification of Shelton’s arguments in a WebMD story.

More to come…

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