Letter to the Editor

AIDS policy causes growing concern

To the editor:

My church, the Anglican Communion, is active in Africa. Our Episcopal Diocese of Missouri recently formed a partnership with the diocese in the southern area of the Sudan. We are growing in our concern for issues in Africa.

On this World AIDS Day, I want to register my deep concern that Pope Benedict XVI and the evangelical Bush administration are misguiding AIDS-prevention policy in Africa.

While AIDS is still epidemic there, our country's support for AIDS prevention is being severely hobbled by the anti-birth control influences of the President's Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR.

Previously there have been excellent results, driving AIDS infection from 30 percent in Uganda down to 6 percent. Peer education and condom distribution have been the simplest, most effective means to achieve this success. Condom use saves lives, and when those African babies grow up, we can teach them that "there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus."

Sadly, now, influenced by these conservative Christian agendas, one-third of America's funding must be spent to promote abstinence. I agree that abstinence is close to godliness. But many children will die before the missionaries can teach them this truth, unless we insist our government provide the most effective prevention.

The REV. ROBERT (BOB) TOWNER, Cape Girardeau