Ugandan president calls church to back condom use

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has called on the Catholic Church to drop its opposition to the use of condoms as they are one of the primary ways of fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS.

"If the church is really interested in having its followers live, it should back the use of condoms to save church members from AIDS," Museveni said on Saturday when he closed a conference of Catholic bishops from 10 sub-Sahara African countries according to a report from Reuters.

He said, "This is not to support immorality, but to recognise the weakness of those we live with and help them to live a healthy life."

The 10-day congress debated the impact of HIV/AIDS in sub-Sahara Africa, the world's worst affected region, where an estimated 25.4 million people are living with the disease.

Museveni's comments came in the wake of criticism by human rights groups, who maintained that his government was abandoning condoms as a means to fight HIV/AIDS in favour of "abstinence only" programmes.

Museveni said the church also should instil morals in the region's youth, as this would mitigate the spread of HIV.

In their final message, the bishops commended efforts to control the HIV/AIDS pandemic, specifically the work of governments and other institutions that encourage abstinence and fidelity.

"We are greatly alarmed by the magnitude of HIV/AIDS, its origin, causes, spread and consequences," the assembly added.

Uganda has won accolades for its fight against the pandemic, which has brought HIV prevalence rates down from over 20 percent in the 1980s to about six percent in 2004. The country has used a strategy popularly known as "ABC", or "Abstinence, Be faithful and use Condoms", to fight the disease.

UGANDA: Back condom use, Museveni urges Catholic leaders (Reuters 15/6/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa

Archbishop OKs condoms for HIV couples (CathNews 14/4/05)
Papal theologian weighs condom use against AIDS (CathNews 2/2/05)
Cardinal says condoms ban due to implied sexual immorality (CathNews 25/1/05)
Pope calls attention to AIDS in developing world (CathNews 24/1/05)
Priest says AIDS fight must tackle 'sex object' culture (CathNews 31/12/04)
Church in Africa continues AIDS fight without condoms (CathNews 10/10/03)
Catholic bishops back government AIDS plan (CathNews 14/8/03)
Kenyan archbishop warns condoms will not prevent AIDS (CathNews 5/8/03)

Federal study confirms abstinence education effective (Catholic World News 15/6/05)

16 Jun 2005