Monday, August 01, 2005
No respecter of morals
The Economist says:
AIDS is no respecter of morals: it affects babies as they are born, children as they are orphaned, nurses as they are accidentally pricked by a dirty needle, patients of any kind as they receive a transfusion of contaminated blood. Indeed, it affects the entire society in which its victims live and die.Oh yes they do. Millions might already have died because of Pope John Paul II's opposition to the use of condoms, and the catholic church isn't alone in thinking in this manner. Denial of AIDS is widespread in official circles in India because of misguided nationalism, and there's probably a moral angle to it there as well, given the sanctimony that pervades our politics. But the disease inflicts more than just prostitutes and gay people, and it affects all of us. And there could be nothing more immoral than turning a blind eye to it.
It also affects the faithful wife of the unfaithful husband. That is why the ABC slogan so beloved by the Bush administration—Abstinence, Be faithful and Condoms—is, in practice, a slap in the face to many people. The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief commits at least a third of its promised $15 billion to “abstinence until marriage” as the main way of stopping the spread of AIDS. It also urges that the use of condoms be confined to people who engage in “risky behaviour”—prostitutes or couples with one member who is HIV-positive. Many groups are reported to be ending or reducing their condom-promotion schemes to qualify for American money.
That might not matter if condoms did not matter, but they do.