Finally, some good news about the AIDS pandemic: Fewer people are being infected now than at the peak of the spread of the disease. About 2.6 million were infected last year with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This is down 20 percent from the late 1990s, according to The New York Times.
In South Africa, infections among young people are down partly due to parents talking frankly about sex with their children. Imagine that—parents talking to their children about how they were born! I was part of a team from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice in 2001 when we launched a program of faith-based sex education that was comprehensive and trained parents, youth leaders and Sunday school teachers how to talk to children and teens about sex and sexuality. There was tremendous resistance. Conservative pastors and church leaders thought the curriculum was encouraging young people to have sex. They wanted an abstinence-only educational focus. How many had to die before they opened their minds and began talking to children and youths about sexuality and how to avoid being infected with HIV?
And finally, Pope Benedict XVI has opened the theological door to affirming condom use to help stem the spread of HIV in the world. For decades the Roman Catholic popes and bishops have not only discouraged condom use to prevent the transmission of HIV but have suggested that the use of condoms actually spreads HIV.