A Christian Solution to HIV Crisis
The general diagnosis points to men who have sex with men (MSM) as the principal culprit in the HIV epidemic in the young key populations. Christianity insists that abstinence is known to be the only fail-safe, reliable, foolproof, and guaranteed method to this problem.
PUBLISHED ONMar 2023
In the area of healthcare, medical scientists and technologists have also learned to scrutinize the signs of the times and this is what alarms them most: HIV, or the human immunodeficiency virus, continues to be a major global public health issue, having claimed a total of 40 million lives so far. Unlike COVID-19, HIV continues to threaten human lives and there’s no stopping it.
In 2021 alone, 650,000 people died from HIV-related causes and 1.5 million people acquired HIV. In comparison, as of November 2022, a total of 6.6 million have died after contracting COVID-19. As a health emergency, it has put humanity into a deep mess. But while COVID-19 is past, HIV is still present and will linger in the future.
HIV is a sexually transmitted infection (STD) that can progress to a disease called acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) when left untreated. Do you think Christianity will stay neutral in the midst of this kind of human suffering?
Asia should be alarmed because the region now has the fastest-growing HIV epidemic in the world. Equally alarming is the fact that the number of new HIV infections among young Asians is scary high compared to the general population, a serious datum that made medical experts say that HIV has a new face, which is the face of the Asian youth.
Sounding the alarm, the United Nations AIDS Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, in partnership with the Thailand Ministries of Public Health and Foreign Affairs, organized in October 2022 in Bangkok the Second Asia-Pacific Youth Forum regarding HIV among the young key populations in the Asia and Pacific region.
The forum has identified the “young key populations,” ages 15 to 24, to include the following groups: 1) young men who have sex with men; 2) youth who use drugs; 3) young transgender people; and 4) young sex workers.
Satit Pitutacha, Thailand’s Deputy Minister of Public Health, said that “preventing HIV, STIs and all emerging diseases among young people requires addressing the root causes that put young people at risk” and enumerated the root causes as gender-related, socio-economic inequalities, and discrimination.
In my opinion, those enumerated by the Thai deputy minister, though critical factors, are secondary causes. Something else is a primary and most direct factor that would ultimately point to the widespread transmission of HIV, a deadly infection with no cure.
The correct diagnosis of an epidemic is an imperative, always keeping in mind the core Erasmian principle that prevention is better than cure. Identify the root cause and you solve 50 percent of the problem, a general assumption that is universally acceptable in healthcare circles.
So, what is the correct diagnosis of HIV infection that will help the medical community to focus on the correct preventive measures? According to Dr. Rontgene Solante, a past president of the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, “anal sex was proven to be riskier than vaginal sex” apropos the HIV infection. Therefore, anal sex is the root cause of the widespread transmission of this deadly virus. It means that, MSM among transgenders, gay, and sex workers are disproportionately at risk for HIV infection.
You must have heard what the British singer Sir Elton John said after marrying his longtime partner, “There is nothing wrong with going to bed with someone of your own sex. People should be very free with sex. They should draw the line at goats.”
I respect that, but I beg to disagree. The brutal fact remains that the HIV epidemic is driven by sexual transmission via MSM over the past two decades, according to Dr. Rossana Ditangco’s Asia-Pacific HIV Observational Database Study. And the “epicenter” of the spread of HIV, particularly among Filipinos, has shifted from female sex workers and overseas workers (OFWs) to MSM.
The more MSM is tolerated, the more HIV infection spreads, which means MSM and HIV epidemic are correlated and not coincidental. The epidemic comes at the time when a number of global lawmakers are promoting same-sex marriage and when the trendy FreeToLove ads, added to secularism and sex liberalism, is catching the youth’s attention. My cogitation here has nothing to do with sexism or any sort of discrimination against people of different sexual orientation.
What Preventive Measures?
Correspondingly, what should the best preventive measure be? Condom! That’s the prevention, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), World Health Organization, and USA-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They continue to hard sell the idea that the use of condom (a.k.a. safe sex) is the most effective protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
The Filipino expert Dr. Solante, on her part, insisted that “promoting condoms among young MSMs is crucial because of the role unsafe sex plays in HIV infection.” But, with the same fervor, I insist that the unsafe sex is not MSM without condom, but the MSM itself. The unsafe sex is the unnatural act itself. And it might be that promoting the use of condoms (or anything external to human nature) is only a Band-Aid solution to the problem!
The law of nature is plain, simple, and definitive: a man and a woman are similar in dignity but different in functions. Being heterosexual man or woman is natural as it reveals sexual complementarity, and sexual complementarity naturally leads to fruitfulness. Sexual complementarity, wherein the woman completes man and vice versa, is a charming part of the natural law, so why mess with it?
However, if they insist they’re passionately attracted or really in love, or no other means to earn a living, MSM remains the same. It is opposed to nature and contrary to natural law and God’s will. MSM contradicts the basic Christian truth of sexual complementarity in being created “male and female,” as the Holy Bible says.
The best Christian attitude is that of Pope Francis. “Who am I to judge?” he once said. Respect the gays, yes, and do not discriminate them, yes. Love them instead and accompany them pastorally. What Christianity cannot condone nonetheless is the genital act between two persons of the same-sex, say, the practice of MSM.
Even in the name of mercy and compassion, Christians cannot move from tolerance to vagueness and ambiguity regarding the sinfulness of homosexual acts to an affirmation of nothing-is-wrong-about-it-when-done-with-love argument.
“Homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life… Under no circumstances can they be approved” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2357).
If MSM is de facto the cause of the spread of HIV, if “anal sex was proven to be riskier than vaginal sex,” and if MSM is in fact the unsafe practice itself, then promoting the use of condom –a practice obviously external to the human nature–does not solve the problem and will never completely solve it.
Therefore, we are left with the most effective solution, which is abstinence. Abstinence, coupled with a will to resolve or what is known as a moral backbone, is definitely a solution. If HIV is a terrifying ailment of nature, only something internal to human nature can solve the problem: abstinence. Something internal because you do not need to use something external to protect yourself.
If smoking can cause cancer, you tell smokers to quit ASAP, and you require discipline from within. In the same manner, if too much drinking of alcohol and taking of drugs are addictive and damaging to one’s health, you tell them to stop.
Instead of providing vapes and other externals, such as condoms, as alternatives, we teach our young to discipline themselves in order to become healthy and productive members of society. The internal struggle is called discipline and it builds up and fortifies our moral strength.
Of course, the correct use of male latex condoms can reduce the risk of STD transmission, including HIV infection, according to health experts. But then, these same health experts would insist that abstinence from vaginal, anal, and oral intercourse is the only 100% effective way to prevent HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and teenage pregnancy.
If MSM is causing the HIV epidemic, the only way to combat it is to tell our teenagers to abstain, to resolve, and resolve firmly. Only abstinence is known to be the only fail-safe, reliable, foolproof, and guaranteed method! And it is the Christian solution!
José Mario Bautista Maximiano is the author of ‘MCMLXXII: 500-Taong Kristiyano (Claretian, 2021), Volume Two,’ that won recently the “Best Book in Ministry” during the 16th Cardinal Sin Catholic Book Awards 2022.