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Saturday, December 17, 2005

Pope AIDS Africa etc. A Rant.

When the late great JPII died, the usual suspects (ah Mzzzzz Toynbee, how sadly predictable you can be) seized the occasion to remind their readers that this man could probably be held personally responsible for millions of deaths from HIV, because of his crazed fundamentalist refusal to let African Catholics use condoms.

I am still puzzled by this curious attitude of African Catholics. They, so I am told by the Pope-bashers, happily fornicate and commit adultery, but would sooner be burnt at the stake than put a rubber sock on their willy.

(Though as a male European Catholic friend pointed out, "how gross is that". Perhaps, if Mz Toynbee's view of the uncontrollable urges of the poor blacks is correct, their simultaneous reluctance to use the condom can be attributed to aesthetics, or squeamishness, rather than respect for the Holy Father and my idea of writing a doctorate on this very odd form of religious psychology can be binned.)

Let us suppose we are deeply concerned about preventing the spread of HIV among these poor benighted souls. We hand out condoms and conduct educational campaigns so that people are not only willing but able to use them Now, according to the (pro-artificial contraception, pro-abortion) Alan Guttmacher Institute, of every hundred women using condoms to prevent pregnancy, 15 will nonetheless conceive within a year. Bear in mind that a woman is fertile for usually much less than a quarter of her menstrual cycle. How many more could catch HIV? And their partners, if the women are infected?

Do by all means jump off that cliff! You only have 1 chance in 10 of getting killed if you let me put this mattress at the bottom first!

Note that this same AGI's FAQ then go on to the affordability of condoms. Now I don't even look at the things in shops, so I have no idea how much they cost. But with all the cynical comments about oil-motives for going to war in Iraq, why aren't there more about people making money from condom contracts with the IPPF or pills for disrupting women's hormonal cycles (women who probably then spend more money on yoga and tai chi to restore their physical and psycho-somal balance) and the gender identity of British fish?

Limited supplies and high costs. In some cases, contraceptives may simply be unavailable or too expensive for individuals. The cost can be substantial: The retail price of an annual supply of contraceptive pills exceeds $100 in some developing countries, as does the retail price of an annual supply of condoms. Contraceptive costs that reach 5 percent of average household income are common, and costs reach 20 percent of income in some Sub-Saharan countries. Family planning programs can make contraceptives more widely available and also reduce their cost for consumers by subsidizing prices.[source]

If you don't want to catch HIV, marry someone you can trust and don't make love to anyone else. 100% guaranteed, bar dodgy blood transplants.

If you don't want to get pregnant for reasons of grinding poverty or family crisis or such-like, then you can save money, keep an informed eye on your reproductive health, have lots of jolly sex and not get pregnant all at the same time. For you contracepting types who don't know - the calendar method (as disingenuously cited for NFP by the above-linked-to AGI) is history, along with the re-usable condom and crocodile-dung pessaries. I know nothing about the sympto-thermal method except that you have to mess around with thermometers in the morning - whatever floats your boat, I seem to remember the stats for it were pretty good.

The Bilings method, on the other hand, has been adopted by the bloody Chinese government, for goodness sake! You will also note that the good people of Burkina Faso, recently, if not still, the world's poorest country, seemed to cope pretty well with the complexity of working out how sticky some mucus was and counting some days around it. Rather better than the Australians, in fact.

Now someone will write a comment about the culture problem where men have the say and women can't say no, about adulterous husbands, blah di blah di blah. If we haven't scared off everyone except the Ostentatiously Pious and/or Cheerfully Triumphalist Catholics. I assume no-one here will be so patronising as to write what one wifie wrote in the Observer wrote some years ago, that you can't expect poor migrant workers, away from home for months on end, not to go to prostitutes. Does she have the same high opinion of her husband, I wondered.

Oh, and here's another simplified method. Scroll down to where there is a II between the paragraphs.

Someone tell me what crucial point I have missed.