Thursday, January 26, 2012

International expert praises Filipino wisdom in halting AIDS

Jason Evert, an international expert on sexuality and family, who was in Manila a year ago, heaped praises on the "wisdom of the Filipino approach to halting AIDS" and said that they are "living proof that self-control always trumps birth control," in his book If You Really Loved Me. He offers prestigious empirical research to prove his point.

If people abstained from sex at least six months between partners, the odds of HIV transmission would be deci­mated. Therefore, countries that encourage monogamy and self-control enjoy much greater success in preventing HIV than coun­tries that simply hand out condoms.

A key example of this is in the Philippines, where condoms are rare, and so is HIV. A New York Times article entitled "Low Rate of AIDS Virus in Philippines Is a Puzzle" reported that the Church in the Philippines is "conservative and politically power­ful." As a result, "the government has no AIDS-awareness pro­gram of its own and restricts the public campaigns of independent family-planning groups."289

But, the article reported, "public health officials say they are stumped by a paradox in the Philippines, where a very low rate of condom use [4 percent] and a very low rate of HIV infection seem to be going hand in hand." In this conservative Catholic coun­try that shuns condoms, about twelve thousand of the eighty-four million residents are infected with HIV. Jean-Marc Olive of the World Health Organization said that he's not sure why this is, but he thinks they're "lucky." One gets the impression that "experts" would rather look puzzled than be forced to give credit to a chaste culture.

To appreciate the wisdom of the Filipino approach to halt­ing the spread of HIV, contrast their efforts with the "safe sex" program implemented in Thailand. Both countries reported their first case of HIV in 1984. By 1987 there were 135 cases in the Philippines, and 112 in Thailand. The World Health Organization predicted that by 1999, 85,000 people would die of AIDS in the Philippines, and 70,000 in Thailand. In an effort to prevent this tragedy, Thailand enacted a "one hundred percent condom use program" and promoted widespread availability of condoms.290 Meanwhile, the Filipino government backed the Church's plan to prevent the epidemic.By 2005, Thailand's HIV rate was fifty times as high as the Philippines (580,000 vs. 12,000).291

But because Thailand's rate of new HIV infections is not as high as it used to be, it is hailed by "safe sex" experts as the model of how to protect a country against HIV. Health officials warn that an HIV epidemic has "the potential to explode" in the Philippines, but they are slow to acknowledge that if Filipinos hold fast to their morals, they'll have nothing to fear.292 Com­pared to Western culture, Filipinos have a delayed sexual debut and a reduced number of partners.293 They are living proof that self-control always trumps birth control.

While some people see the Catholic Church as an obstacle to HIV prevention, the British Medical Journal noted, "The greater the percentage of Catholics in any country, the lower the level of HIV. If the Catholic Church is promoting a message about HIV in those countries, it seems to be working. On the basis of data from the World Health Organization, in Swaziland, where 42.6 percent have HIV, only 5 percent of the population is Catholic. In Botswana, where 37 percent of the adult population is HIV infected, only 4 percent of the population is Catholic. In South Africa, 22 percent of the population is HIV infected, and only 6 percent is Catholic. In Uganda, with 43 percent of the population Catholic, the proportion of HIV infected adults is 4 percent."294 In the Philippines, over 80 percent of the population is Catholic, and only .03 percent of the population has HIV!295


289 Seth Mydans, "Low Rate Of AIDS Virus In Philippines Is a Puzzle," The New York Times (April 20, 2003).

290 Human Life International, "Condom Expose", 16.

291UNAIDS "Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic," 2006, Annex 2

292 Mydans.

293 Cecile Balgos, "Philippines Proud of its Low Infection Rate, Number of Cases," San Francisco Chronicle (May 21, 2003).

294 Amin Abboud, "Searching for Papal Scapegoats Is Pointless," British Medical Journal 331 (July 30, 2005), 294.

295 Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, "International Reli­gious Freedom Report 2004," U.S. Department of State (September 15, 2004); UNAIDS "Philippines" Country Situation Analysis (

No comments: