PARIS, SEPT. 15, 2009 (Zenit.org).- There is a lack of realism in debate about condoms, according to a French epidemiologist who maintains that Benedict XVI's assertion that condom use can actually aggravate the AIDS crisis is "simply realistic."
René Ecochard, director of the biostatistics department at Lyon's University Hospital Center, signed a document last April supporting his case.
Speaking this week with France's La Manche Libre, Ecochard explained that there is "a lack of realism" on the condom issue, which he called a "prisoner of ideology."
This ideology brought an uproar in the Western press when Benedict XVI said en route to Africa on March 17 that the "problem of AIDS cannot be overcome merely with money, necessary though it is. If there is no human dimension, if Africans do not help [by responsible behavior], the problem cannot be overcome by the distribution of prophylactics: on the contrary, they increase it." [It's the attitude! Not the plastic alone!] Ecochard contended: It seems as though "opinion loses its points of reference when it addresses the issues of sexuality and the family." The doctor acknowledged that part of the problem was "an error of understanding in public opinion."
He explained: "People thought that the Pope was speaking of the efficacy of the plastic, the condom, when in reality he was speaking of the campaigns to spread the condom. This is very different."
"As is true of every technological object of prevention, the condom has a quantified efficacy."
But therein is not the problem, Ecochard stated, "All epidemiologists agree today that the campaigns to distribute [condoms] in countries where the proportion of affected people is very high, do not work."
"If the condom works four out of five times," this might be sufficient "when AIDS is not widespread," he explained. "However, in a country in which 25% of young people 25 years old are affected -- Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia -- it isn't sufficient.
"The failure of this form of prevention is an epidemiological reality.
"Surrounded by experts, well informed by Rome's Academy of Sciences, the Pope mastered this issue very well before going to Africa." [The pope is not dumb to make those statements.] Ecochard went on to reflect on the case of Uganda, the only country in which 25-year-old AIDS victims has been cut in third. He noted that in Uganda, in addition to campaigns supporting condom distribution, there has been the ABC campaign: "Abstain, Be faithful, chastity or the condom." [Right on!]
"The presidential couple, religious groups, schools and businesses -- the whole world has supported this campaign," Ecochard noted. "It might be that this is not easy to copy from one country to another, but today, it's the only hope."
I once had a debate about the contraceptive issue with a superior. He once argued why the Catholic Church (he is Catholic by the way, nominal though) and the Knights of Columbus (which I am) in particular are so against contraceptives when the world population is bloating. I told him that it is an issue about life. He countered by saying that contraceptives help families to have a decent life by controlling the population. I told him that there are other ways to control the population but not through artificial means. He answered "But people are lustful. They just want to have sex all the time! Just give them the means to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies!" I told him that it is a matter of principle. If we agree first and foremost when life begins, and what sex is all about, then we can continue in the debate of contraception.
We ended not agreeing because he defended his views in the mindset of Sigmund Freud while I did my best as a faithful son of the Church, following her teachings (based on Humanae Vitae and Evangelium Vitae).
Hard to convince someone who thinks we are born just to have sex...