Husband sent me an email the other day with a link to this photo in it:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I’ll give you a second to absorb the information in that photo…

Can you see the message it’s putting across? The map on the right shows the distribution and severity of the AIDS virus in Africa. The map on the left shows the concentration of religions (notably Christianity, in red) by country. There is an ALARMING correlation between the two maps, is there not?

When are we going to realise that religion is responsible for almost every major world issue that we’re facing today? The Catholic church is sending missionaries to African countries and spreading the belief that not only will they burn in hell for eternity if they use contraception, but that condoms do nothing to halt the spread of the disease  which is grossly wrong. The Wikipedia page on ‘Religion and HIV/AIDS’ says “Pope John Paul II strongly opposed the use of artificial birth control, and rejected the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV.[8] Pope Benedict XVI stated in 2005 that condoms were not a sufficient solution to the AIDS crisis,[9] but then in 2009 claimed that AIDS “cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems.””

The irony of the statement above becomes even greater when you factor in the fact that the Catholic church considers AIDS and HIV to be a ‘gay’ disease and punishment for promiscuous behaviour, yet actively blocks gay marriage and the concept of monogamy for gay couples. We’ve let religion dictate our political decisions for far too long.

I’m by no means lumping every Christian into this category, but there are extremists in every denomination and the western world needs to wake up to the fact that telling citizens of a country which has an AIDS pandemic that condoms don’t protect against AIDS is religious extremism in its worst form.

It’s being reported that rape is being used as a weapon more than ever in many African nations since the explosion in infection rates of HIV and AIDS. The Unitied Nations University said “One striking difference between the use of rape as a weapon of war in pre-1990 conflicts and in latter-day wars is the emergence and “willful” transmission of HIV to the victims. Serious questions have been raised in the social science literature about the actual time of transmission and infection, and whether the “intent” of the perpetrators could conclusively be to infect the victim with HIV. Nonetheless, there is evidence from the victims’ accounts confirming the deliberate nature of these acts.

In her 2004 book, The Right to Survive: Sexual Violence, Women and HIV/AIDS, Françoise Nduwimana reported the testimony of one of the many rape victims during the genocide:

“For 60 days, my body was used as a thoroughfare for all the hoodlums, militia men and soldiers in the district.… Those men completely destroyed me; they caused me so much pain. They raped me in front of my six children.… Three years ago, I discovered I had HIV/AIDS. There is no doubt in my mind that I was infected during these rapes.””

People may blanch at the term ‘pro-choice’ but for me, being pro-choice isn’t just about abortion. Pro-choice means that EVERYONE has the right to choose. They have the right to choose to protect themselves against disease and poverty just as they also have a right to follow religious doctrine if they choose to. Preaching anti-contraception propaganda to vulnerable masses is dangerous.

Marie Stopes is doing fantastic work in Africa and other Third World countries to try to eliminate HIV and AIDS by providing contraception and family planning advice, as well as access to safe abortions and sexual health treatment. If you’d like to help them by donating to their cause, or simply educating yourself about the work that they do, you can GO HERE.

Do me a favour. Take another look at that map. Really think about the implications. Then think about the fact that 12 years ago, some Muslim extremists flew a plane into some buildings. 2996 people were killed that day and the USA and UK went to war with Iraq, leading to around 655,000 excess deaths, 601,027 of which were violent, according to The Lancet.

Through reading various publications, I found the following facts: Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 68% of all people living with HIV, however is only home to 12% of the world’s population. The vast majority of people in the region acquire the viurus during unprotected heterosexual intercourse or through breastfeeding as newborn babies. Of the estimated 22.9 million people living with AIDS in the region, 59% are women. Between 1999 and 2000, more people died of AIDS-related diseases in Africa than all the worlds wars combined. In 2010 alone, HIV/AIDS related diseases killed 1.2 million people in sub-Saharan Africa. Almost 90% of the 16.6 million children orphaned by AIDS live in sub-Saharan Africa. An estimated 2 million adolescents aged 10-19 are living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. The majority of them don’t even know they’re infected.

Why aren’t we going to war over that?

SOURCES

http://www.stephenlewisfoundation.org/assets/files/Materials%20-%20General/SLF_HIV-AIDS_factsheet.pdf

http://unu.edu/publications/articles/rape-and-hiv-as-weapons-of-war.html

issuebrief/760/
http://www.unaids.org/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/epidemiology/2012/gr2012/2012_FS_regional_ssa_en.pdf
http://www.avert.org/worldstats.htm
http://www.globalissues.org/article/90/aids-in-africa