Scientist says AIDS pandemic is Vatican's fault

Australia's most distinguished expatriate scientist, Lord May of Oxford, has launched an attack on the Catholic Church, blaming Vatican policy for the spread of AIDS in the Third World.

The Age reports that Lord May said that the Vatican's opposition to the use of condoms was an example of "dogma" leading to the deliberate misrepresentation of facts, at great human cost.

The Sydney-born scientist's words came in his final speech delivered as president of Britain's Royal Society, the world's oldest scientific organisation, past presidents of which include Isaac Newton and Joseph Banks.

Speaking in London, Lord May described AIDS as a pandemic, with more than 40 million people infected across the world. He quoted a UN report from June that said effective and essential prevention strategies "reach only a fraction of those who need them".

"The dissemination and adoption of successful prevention strategies is being seriously hindered by arguments over the role that contraception in the form of condoms should play. This controversy has nothing to do with a scientific assessment of the effectiveness of condoms in preventing the transmission of HIV, but rather derives from religious beliefs against the use of contraception," Lord May said.

"The Vatican promotes abstinence outside marriage, and condemns condom use. This disapproval is not an effective strategy for preventing dissemination of HIV, not least because unprotected sex with an infected individual is high risk regardless of whether the act is intended for procreation or recreation. With added support from fundamentalist groups, these arguments have the effect that aid from the US for tackling HIV/AIDS seems usually to be tied to promoting abstinence and condemning condom use."

Lord May is a pioneer in the use of mathematical theory to analyse the spread of disease in populations. He harbours a strong resentment against the Vatican for what he believes is an unforgivable denial of reality.

While he has not attacked the Catholic Church publicly before, he stated at a private seminar in the early 1990s, his belief that the Pope had been responsible "for more deaths than Hitler" through Vatican policy on contraception.

Scientist blames Vatican dogma for AIDS pandemic (The Age 5/12/05)

Speaker says AIDS struggle also helping to beat poverty (CathNews 1/12/05)
Vatican says 'pansexual culture' fuels increase in AIDS/HIV (CathNews 30/11/05)
Bishop calls for new AIDS theology (CathNews 16/11/05)
Cardinal endorses condom use for married couples (CathNews 7/11/05)

Vatican defends banning singer who supports condoms (Reuters 2/12/05)
Pope says abstinence helping beat AIDS in Africa (Reuters 1/12/05)
Pope Calls for Religious Efforts Aimed at 'Eradicating' AIDS (Religion News Service 30/11/05)
Parting shot to Pope: get real on AIDS (Sydney Morning Herald 4/12/05)

5 Dec 2005