Roman Catholic Bishops of England & Wales
Our bodies are not our own
CIIR - Catholic Institute for International Relations
Like CAFOD, CIIR called for a 'rethink' on condoms. The Catholic Institute for International Relations, which has been financially supported by CAFOD, have a policy of supporting the use of condoms to help prevent HIV. In their booklet entitled Comment: HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa - The threat to development, they state:
'Research shows conclusively that good quality condoms are highly effective in preventing transmission of HIV and other STIs. If used correctly and constantly, condoms can reduce the risk of HIV transmission by a factor of 10,000. However, theoretical efficacy in the laboratory is not the same as efficacy in practice, hence the higher documented failure rate of condoms as a contraceptive compared to the contraceptive pill. &nbMoreover, there are social taboos that prevent the use of condoms in some situations such as marriage as they are often associated with a lack of trust. (Married women are therefore at a greater risk of contracting HIV and other STIs if their husbands have extra-marital sex.) These taboos are reinforced by some of the churches and other groups opposed to condom use.
The female condom has the advantage that it is controlled by women, who are often more motivated than men to use protection. Research shows that female condoms provide highly effective protection against infections and pregnancy. In Zimbabwe, sales of female condoms have exceeded expectations, and they are now being marketed elsewhere in the region. &nbThe development of a safe and effective vaginal microbicide that could protect against HIV/AIDS would also be of great benefit to women, and research in this area should be encouraged.'(18)
There is so much wrong with this statement that there is not enough space to comment on it all in detail. However, in addition to the moral and theological case against condom use and that which has already been mentioned in this publication, CIIR contradict themselves. Firstly they state that 'research shows conclusively that good quality condoms are highly effective in preventing transmission of HIV and other STIs' but then they state that in practice condoms have a high failure rate. It is also important to point out that Dr Fitch of the Medical Institute(19) has shown that 'consistent and correct use' of condoms is almost impossible for people to achieve.(20)
For CIIR to have a health-care policy based on a practice which is unachievable will surely put peoples lives at risk.