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Letters & Op-Eds - 2005

seattle times

Study in Catastrophe

Frances Kissling

22 June 2005

Deadly simple

"The ABCs of fighting the spread of AIDS in Africa" [syndicated column, June 17], Kathryn Lopez's cynical interpretation of Elton John's remarks concerning the invitation to Pope Benedict XVI to the upcoming Live 8 concert, demonstrates a willful disregard of epidemiological studies and a lack of understanding of the complexity of HIV/AIDS prevention work.

Using Uganda as an example of the success of "A and B" is mystifying: A 2002 study conducted by U.S. and Ugandan researchers found that the "single greatest factor" in Uganda's declining HIV prevalence rate was premature death among HIV-positive people who died of AIDS-related causes during the study. The second factor was condom use.

It is a shame Lopez has chosen to trivialize the efforts of those working to stem the spread of AIDS in Africa. No one has suggested that "throwing condoms at the problem" will stem the spread of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. Responsible prevention models include compatible messages and evidence-based strategies that integrate the A, B and C approach (Abstain; Be Faithful; Use Condoms) — a model rejected by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.

It is both reasonable and necessary to challenge those who promote positions and policies that lead to greater suffering and death from AIDS.

Frances Kissling, president, Catholics for a Free Choice, Washington, D.C.

This letter appeared in the 22 June 2005 edition of the Seattle Times.