State and church at odds over condom use

Catholic Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Pope’s representative to Uganda, on Saturday appealed to the youth of the country to turn a deaf ear to those who would urge them to use condoms, claiming that they were not the solution to HIV-AIDS. This statement came barely a fortnight after Ugandan Vice-President Specioza Wandire Kazibwe had criticised religious leaders who came out against the use of condoms, the semi-official ‘New Vision’ group reported. Kazibwe, who had toured the country promoting condom use as a protection against the AIDS virus, told a meeting in Masaka, southern Uganda, that the clergy were hampering the national campaign against the disease. Contrary to what the youth were being told, condoms could increase the spread of the disease due to its promotion of “outright promiscuity” and it was abstinence that could save young people, the ‘Sunday Vision’ quoted Pierre as saying. Uganda has some 820,000 adults and children living with HIV-AIDS, giving an estimated adult infection rate of 8.3 percent of the population, but it has been a model country in terms of tackling the pandemic - including through government promotion of condom use - and managed to control the spread of the disease in a manner that African countries are keen to emulate.