27 December 2001

Kenya: Catholics to Campaign Against Ban On Condoms

Nairobi is set to see massive public advertisements condemning the Catholic Church's ban on the use of condoms in the fight against HIV/Aids.

The campaign will see several billboards and adverts in major streets and newspapers respectively bearing the message "Banning Condoms Kills".

The campaign dubbed "Condoms Life" is organised by Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC), an advocacy organisation of Catholics who are opposed to the Vatican's stand on condoms. They will also place the billboards in all prominent locations in the town reinforcing the message "Catholic People Care - Do our Bishops?" According to Frances Kissling, CFFC's president, the campaign is expected to be met with hostility from the Catholic faithful but they are determined to make an impact in Kenya just like they have done it in other countries.

Said Kissling: '"Banning Condoms Kills" was launched on this year's World Aids Day and involves massive mobilising efforts in the US, Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America to change the Vatican's condom policy.

He said this unprecedented world-wide public education effort is aimed at Catholics and non Catholics alike to raise awareness about the devastating effects of the ban on condoms.

"The Vatican and the bishops bear significant responsibility for the deaths of thousands of people who have died from Aids," Kissling said.

Mr Peter Piot, United Nation's Aids (UNAIDS) director observed that the church's stand against contraception was a serious mistake that was costing the human race dearly.

"We are not asking the church to promote the use of contraceptives but merely to stop banning its use," Piot said.

Other major cities targeted in the campaign include Brussels, Cape Town, Harare, La Paz Santiago, Mexico City and Manila which have huge Catholic populations. The initial phase of the Condoms Life campaign started in November in Washington DC.

All along, the churches have remained adamant over the use of condoms in the fight against HIV/Aids.

Meanwhile, Public Health Minister, Prof Sam Ongeri has said HIV/Aids prevalence is still increasing in many parts of Kenya, with that rate expected to rise by 14 per cent by the year 2005.

The minister said though the prevalence was stabilising in some areas, it is highly likely that this will continue to increase at least for a few years with some urban areas recording upto 20 to 30 per cent.

Ongeri said even in areas where some stabilisation had been achieved, this was still bad news as it meant that the number of new infections approximately equalled the number of deaths from the pandemic.

However, Ongeri observed that the multi-sectoral strategy adopted by the Government was already bearing some fruits and appealed to Kenyans to emphasise on preventive measures.

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