Vatican distorted scientific evidence on condoms, HIV to promote Catholic doctrine on this issue

"The Vatican felt the heat from an unprecedented amount of international condemnation last week after Pope Benedict XVI made an outrageous and wildly inaccurate statement about HIV/AIDS," a Lancet editorial says.

It adds that the Roman Catholic Church's "ethical opposition to birth control and support of marital fidelity and abstinence in HIV prevention is well known. But, by saying that condoms exacerbate the problem of HIV/AIDS, the Pope has publicly distorted scientific evidence to promote Catholic doctrine on this issue."

The editorial says, "Whether the Pope's error was due to ignorance or a deliberate attempt to manipulate science to support Catholic ideology is unclear." It adds, "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."

According to the editorial, 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." It concludes, "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" (Lancet, 3/28).

Kaisernetwork.orgThis article is republished with kind permission from our friends at The Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery of in-depth coverage of health policy developments, debates and discussions. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Copyright 2009 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.


  1. Jeff Tan Jeff Tan Australia says:

    After all, the director of Harvard's AIDS Prevention Research Project has also blamed "risk compensation" due to the sense of security offered by condoms as the primary culprit in the spread of AIDS in Africa. Is Dr. Green distorting scientific evidence?

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