Benedict's AIDS stance pleases UN

A UN adviser says that officials of the international body are very pleased that Pope Benedict has been speaking more about AIDS in his speeches.

Karen Stanecki, a senior advisor to UNAIDS, the UN agency on AIDS, told a conference on AIDS organised by the US Embassy to the Holy See that AIDS is on the rise among married women, including in Ghana, where married women were three times likely to be infected than non-married women, the International Herald Tribune reports.

"There is a concern that the messages need to be changing," said Karen Stanecki, referring to the long-held warnings to higher risk populations targeting homosexually active men and intravenous drug users.

She said that UN officials were "very pleased that Pope Benedict has been speaking more about AIDS in his speeches."

But Cardinal Barragan who presides over the Pontifical Council for Health Care reiterated Church teaching, saying individuals must "have the courage to proclaim clearly chastity" in a society in which sex is part of the pursuit of pleasure.

He told Associated Press on the sidelines of the conference that it was not yet known if the Vatican would issue a document about the use of condoms after examining the study his office had prepared at the pope's request.

However, he said the request for the study "shows the desire of the pope" to battle AIDS, and demonstrates that "he is not indifferent to this difficult problem."

The Vatican study on condoms only deals with married couples in which one partner has HIV, the AIDS-causing virus.

Vatican cardinal who prepared study on condoms says main weapon in AIDS fight is chastity (International Herald Tribune, 20/12/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Pontifical Council for Health Care
US Embassy to the Holy See

Catholic agency in World AIDS Day appeal (CathNews, 1/12/06)
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21 Dec 2006