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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Beware religious dogma in Africa

And when I say religious dogma, I mean the secular kind. Recall the controversy over the Pope's comments on AIDS and condoms? At least one Harvard academic is saying the immortal gods of science prove the Pope right:

A senior Harvard research scientist confirmed that Pope Benedict XVI, who endured heavy criticism for declaring that condom distribution programs worsen the AIDS epidemic in Africa, was actually correct. Dr. Edward C. Green, director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, told National Review Online last week that despite AIDS activists and media outlets pounding the pope for downplaying the effectiveness of condoms, the science actually supports the Catholic leader's claim.

(cross-posted to ProWomanProLife)

Posted by Andrea Mrozek on March 24, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink

Comments

Condoms aren't effective in Africa, because the Africans don't know how to use them. There are stories of people hanging them outside their huts, thinking they'll keep the evil spirits away.

You can't save people like that, so why bother trying? If it were up to me and the vast majority of Canadians, we'd quit throwing money at Africa. It's a lost cause.

Posted by: dp | 2009-03-24 11:51:28 AM


What part of the science did the Pope get right? Please post the link to the quotation, and to the science.

Posted by: Chet | 2009-03-24 12:25:51 PM


Chet, good question. It would also be good to see the science behind the belief that condoms help.

Posted by: TM | 2009-03-24 12:33:13 PM


There are types of aid that have been very successful in Africa (for instance, providing free vaccines to children). It seems as though aid funding is often targeted poorly when it's sent or distributed by governments, though.

Some countries in Africa have had success in lowering the prevalence of HIV and AIDS infections - it would make sense to see what these countries are doing right, rather than just throwing money (or condoms) at the problem.

Posted by: Janet | 2009-03-24 12:35:01 PM


I have an idea, Janet. Let's bring every African, who has aids, to Canada, set them up in a nice apartment, in a nice city, and give them free health care for all eternity.

Would that finally ease the conscience of every self-loathing white man?

Posted by: dp | 2009-03-24 12:50:41 PM


dp have you, or anyone you're very close to even spent more than two weeks in any part of Africa with an average income of less than $100/year?

The AIDS problem is worse with heavy population, and people in heavier populated areas are less religious regarding AIDS. Not to mention the pictorial pamphlets and free advice that come with most free condoms is more education than most 15 year old Canadians have.

By grossly over simplifying a serious and complex problem you make yourself look like a fool.

Posted by: Dave K | 2009-03-24 1:33:04 PM


dp have you, or anyone you're very close to even spent more than two weeks in any part of Africa with an average income of less than $100/year?

The AIDS problem is worse with heavy population, and people in heavier populated areas are less religious regarding AIDS. Not to mention the pictorial pamphlets and free advice that come with most free condoms is more education than most 15 year old Canadians have.

By grossly over simplifying a serious and complex problem you make yourself look like a fool.

Posted by: Dave K | 2009-03-24 1:33:06 PM


dp have you, or anyone you're very close to even spent more than two weeks in any part of Africa with an average income of less than $100/year?

The AIDS problem is worse with heavy population, and people in heavier populated areas are less religious regarding AIDS. Not to mention the pictorial pamphlets and free advice that come with most free condoms is more education than most 15 year old Canadians have.

By grossly over simplifying a serious and complex problem you make yourself look like a fool.

Posted by: Dave K | 2009-03-24 1:33:12 PM


dp have you, or anyone you're very close to even spent more than two weeks in any part of Africa with an average income of less than $100/year?

The AIDS problem is worse with heavy population, and people in heavier populated areas are less religious regarding AIDS. Not to mention the pictorial pamphlets and free advice that come with most free condoms is more education than most 15 year old Canadians have.

By grossly over simplifying a serious and complex problem you make yourself look like a fool.

Posted by: Dave K | 2009-03-24 1:33:12 PM


Dave K, the reason AIDS is such a scourge in Africa is largely cultural. Most African cultures are very heavy on the male machismo bit; some even allow husbands to sew their wife's labia together to prevent trysting should he need to leave home for an extended period. Female circumcision is fairly commonplace. Powerful taboos and superstitions are everywhere, particularly in the countryside, where old habits die hard.

The upshot is that while women are required (in theory) to remain strictly monagamous, men feel perfectly free to sow their oats in whatever field will welcome them. Since men demand sexual favours from the same women upon whose chastity they ostensibly insist, their respect for women is not what it could be. Women often have little real choice in these matters, with the result that they are often infected, and then pass along the infection to other men, who in turn pass it on to more women, and so on.

It's easy to blame poverty, but also wrong. AIDS is not nearly as prevalent in countries where monogamy is valued in practice as well as in theory, even among the poor. And by insisting otherwise you reveal yourself the fool.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-03-24 1:51:32 PM


P.S. One post is sufficient. Twice is an understandable response to a slow-to-update server. Four is is just plain nuts.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-03-24 1:53:08 PM


I consider it foolish to keep trying to help people who refuse to help themselves.

And Dave, why would anyone with a lick of common sense EVER go to Africa?

Posted by: dp | 2009-03-24 4:06:48 PM


I'd also like to say, overcomplicating a simple problem is the act of a fool.

Posted by: dp | 2009-03-24 4:09:53 PM


Yikes. Thought this blog might have some intelligent comments. FAIL.

Still waiting to see the evidence that Pope got the science right.

Posted by: Chet | 2009-03-24 8:08:11 PM


I'd also be interested to see the evidence of the following:

- "Africans don't know how to use condoms". Stories are not data. Are there facts to support this claim?

- "the vast majority of Canadians" don't support aid to Africa. Is there evidence (e.g., public opinion surveys) that have evaluated Canadian opinions on this?

Posted by: Chet | 2009-03-24 8:16:56 PM


Chet, it is for you for provide evidence that the Pope got it wrong.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-03-24 9:37:54 PM


Chet- Let me be clear about this. I want you to piss off. This is not Statistics Canada. These are opinions. I never claimed to have any sort of evidence. Then again, you have no evidence to refute anything I've said.

Posted by: dp | 2009-03-24 9:48:46 PM


Chet: "Yikes. Thought this blog might have some intelligent comments. FAIL. Still waiting to see the evidence that Pope got the science right."

No one said he got the science right. The claim was that the science has proved him right, not that he arrived at his own conclusion via the scientific method. There's a difference, you know.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-03-24 10:02:35 PM


Chet, please feel free to pass around the hat to collect donation for Africa. I will donate to charities of my choice. No public opinion polls required.

Posted by: TM | 2009-03-24 10:48:49 PM


"The best and latest empirical evidence indeed shows that reduction in multiple and concurrent sexual partners is the most important single behavior change associated with reduction in HIV-infection rates," Green said.

In Uganda, according to a report in Science magazine, teaching about AIDS and promoting monogamy has led to a dramatic turnaround in the country's AIDS epidemic.

"Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is preventable if populations are mobilized to avoid risk," states the report's summary. "Despite limited resources, Uganda has shown a 70 percent decline in HIV prevalence since the early 1990s, linked to a 60 percent reduction in casual sex. The response in Uganda appears to be distinctively associated with communication about [AIDS] through social networks. Despite substantial condom use and promotion of biomedical approaches, other African countries have shown neither similar behavioral responses nor HIV prevalence declines of the same scale. The Ugandan success is equivalent to a vaccine of 80 percent effectiveness."

It seems pretty obvious.

Posted by: DJ | 2009-03-25 12:27:56 AM


"why would anyone with a lick of common sense EVER go to Africa? "

Good question. It needs to be put to America's post-racial Peace Corps, who are sending young white girls and boys to Africa and Central America knowing full well the chances of rape, assault and murder are high.

http://www.daytondailynews.com/project/content/project/peacecorps/daily/1026main.html

Posted by: DJ | 2009-03-25 12:45:49 AM


Hey, I just had a surprisingly brilliant idea:

In recognition of the Western Standard's efforts to fight racism and promote immigration I think we conservatives should pass the hat around and buy these fine internationalists tickets to the World Cup in South Africa, only a year away.

Weed's illegal there, but that seems to be the case everywhere except their very active imaginations, hmph. Super homophobic and misogynist society, if we are to believe the papers, but only in their own country, they magically become libertarians as soon as they immigrate to Canada, or so Jaws and Ter and Isaac and Kalim and Janice would have you believe. Their AIDS magically disappears too, apparently, at no cost to the Canadian taxpayer.

Anyway, some people call South Africa the rape capital of the world, some call it the crime capital of the world, some call it the AIDS capital of the world, I say they should all get together and feel alright!

What say guys? Can we help pay your way to World Cup 2010? I think they'd like you. I think they'd REALLY like Janet.

Posted by: JOPKE | 2009-03-25 2:11:42 AM


Janet, your first point rings absolutely true. Often aid is allowed to rot on the dockside because a local potentate wants to starve a restive population into submission. Even where this isn't the case, the whole of sub-Saharan Africa is saddled with an infrastructure that, outside of South Africa, couldn't support the city of Pittsburgh. In other words, just getting the aid to where it's needed is often impractical, where not impossible.

Your second point also rings true, as has already been addressed by DJ, myself, and others above. The fact is that AIDS is completely preventable (if you can avoid rape, which is apparently tough in parts of Africa). It's a simple venereal disease, just like syphilis before it. Only because it struck first in a constituency that was already very active politically did it become such a hot potato. If it had struck primarily white Christian farmers it wouldn't have had nearly the political impact it's had.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-03-25 6:43:01 AM


Shane, and DJ- Not all that complex, is it?

A few years back, Uganda was the absolute worst case in the world. I guess you have to hit bottom, before you see the need to pull yourself up.

Posted by: dp | 2009-03-25 9:52:21 AM


Until and unless the various African governments decide to deal with this, it is pure arrogance and ignorance for the West to bombard them with condoms which have clearly not solved the problem. Furthermore, it is not a matter of financial aid that is the cure for AIDS in Africa. It is however a matter of information and education which come under the jurisdiction of the countries concerned.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-03-25 8:02:56 PM



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