Miami Living Magazine

Mark-Paul Gosselaar

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Page 96 of 147

MIAMI LIVING 95 HEALTH The fact of the matter is that people are going to have sex. Period. Last March, Pope Benedict XVI was asked the following prepared question by a French TV journalist aboard the papal plane: "Holy Father among the many evils that affect Africa there is also the particular problem of the spread of AIDS. The position of the Catholic Church for fighting this evil is frequently considered unrealistic and ineffective. Will you address this issue during your trip? Holy Father, could you please respond in French to this question?" He responded in Italian, with the gist of his answer being: "I would say that this problem of AIDS cannot be overcome with advertising slogans. If the soul is lacking, if Africans do not help one another, the scourge cannot be resolved by distributing condoms; quite the contrary, we risk worsening the problem." Well, frankly, after this statement all hell broke loose, not only in the medical, scientific, and gays rights communities, but also among high-ranking members of the Catholic Church. And ML's own HIV/AIDS expert Filippo von Schloesser has his own opinion on the matter: "As a Roman and as a human being who has promoted the use of the condoms for many years, I feel offended and frustrated by the words of the Pope, who recently affirmed its use is not part of a strategy to prevent the spread of AIDS, especially in Africa where 18 million children are orphans because of the spread of this virus." Von Schloesser continues: "The entire world has been working on AIDS prevention for 25 years, informing and teaching children at schools on correct condom usage and how it can stop the epidemic. Many priests who work in Africa are committed to distributing free condoms in small rural communities in spite of this bizarre message from the Pope. I just hope the words of the Pope will not lead to more risky behaviors. It is hard to understand how scientific evidence achieved to help the people live can be voided by an outdated moralistic concept." The Bishop Porto Manuel Clemente, from Portugal, also strongly disagrees with the Pope. He said condom use is "not only recommendable, [but] ethically obligatory." People in Africa, let alone all over the world, aren't simply going to stop having sex just because someone, even the Pope, says they had better stop it. Education on safe sex is the best course of action. Epidemiology Epidemiology is the branch of medical science dealing with the transmission and control of disease. The HIV/AIDS pandemic continues to evolve in both magnitude and diversity, according to the Center for Disease Control Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. The CDC further surmises that despite the reduction in numbers of new AIDS cases in the US and Western Europe, the number of new HIV infections persist every year, providing evidence that high-risk factors in terms of prevention, are increasing all over of the world. And it's Africa that remains in the eye of the storm, with rapidly increasing cases in the south and east of the continent affecting all levels of society. "At the beginning of the AIDS history the spread of the virus was supposed to be linked to risk categories such as men who have sex with men, and drug users," says von Schloesser. "However, more recently it has been shown that the HIV virus is not an infection linked to special categories, but to the general population that's sexually active and at risk, thus more hazardous behaviour brings about new cases that could have been prevented." So, ladies and gentleman, please use common sense. Use a condom. ML The Pope vs. Condoms Common sense is overruled Words by Marla E. Schwartz

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