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Lancet calls for Pope to retract comments about condoms and HIV/AIDS

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A medical journal has accused the Pope of ‘distorting science’ in his remarks that condoms have exacerbated the problem of HIV and AIDS.

Pope Benedict XVI said the ‘cruel epidemic’ should be tackled through abstinence rather than condom use.

He said during his first visit to Africa that HIV/AIDS ‘cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which can even increase the problem’.

The traditional teaching of the Catholic church was the only ‘proven and failsafe’ way to prevent the spread of the disease, he added.

But the Lancet disagreed called for the Pope to retract the comments. The editorial sauid:’ By saying that condoms exacerbate the problem of HIV/AIDS, the Pope has publicly distorted scientific evidence to promote Catholic doctrine on this issue.

It concludes: ‘Whether the Pope’s error was due to ignorance or a deliberate attempt to manipulate science to support Catholic ideology is unclear.

‘But the comment still stands and the Vatican’s attempts to tweak the Pope’s words, further tampering with the truth, is not the way forward.

‘When any influential person, be it a religious or political leader, makes a false scientific statement that could be devastating to the health of millions of people, they should retract or correct the public record.

Anything less from Pope Benedict would be an immense disservice to the public and health advocates, including many thousands of Catholics, who work tirelessly to try and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide.’

The Lancet (2009) 373: 1054

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