IAS calls for universal condom acceptance in wake of Pope Benedict's comments

November 23, 2010

23 November 2010 (Geneva, Switzerland) - The International AIDS Society (IAS) cautiously notes the comments from Pope Benedict that condom use could, in specific circumstances, be acceptable, but calls on the Pope and the Catholic Church to come out clearly and strongly in support of all evidence-based methods of HIV prevention, including condom use.

By implying that there can only be some exceptional circumstances that could allow for condom usage, such as that of male prostitutes, the Pope is ignoring scientific evidence that shows that both male and female condoms, used correctly and consistently, can reduce the risk of sexual transmission of HIV by 80 to 90 percent.

Although the Pope's concession is a step in the right direction, the IAS remains sceptical especially after the Pope's comments in 2009 when he stated that condoms aggravated the AIDS problem. At that time the IAS reacted saying that his comments were "irresponsible and dangerous'' and that there was "not a shred" of evidence suggesting condom use raises the risk of HIV transmission.

The IAS President Elly Katabira expressed his mixed reaction to the Pope's comments, 'While I appreciate this is a significant shift in policy by the Pope, there is still a long way to go in convincing the Catholic church that condom usage is key to the elimination of the HIV virus which currently claims two million lives every year'.

The IAS calls on all other civil society organisations and religious communities to join the IAS in pushing for a more substantial change in the Catholic Church's policy to HIV prevention arguing that a piece-meal approach to HIV prevention will have only a marginal impact in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

In July 2011 the IAS will be holding its bi annual conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention in Rome, Italy, and will use this platform to further advocate for universal access to all HIV prevention methods.
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About the IAS

The International AIDS Society (IAS) is the world's leading independent association of HIV professionals, with over 19,000 members from more than 190 countries working at all levels of the global response to AIDS. Our members include researchers from all disciplines, clinicians, public health and community practitioners on the frontlines of the epidemic, as well as policy and programme planners. The IAS is the custodian of the biennial International AIDS Conference and lead organizer of the IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention, which will be held in Rome, Italy in July 2011.

www.iasociety.org | www.ias2011.org

International AIDS Society

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