is astonishing to think of it, but many apparently mature adults
among us today were in junior high when the world learned about
AIDS, whose 20th anniversary is being marked. (Or, for the famously
young web audience, think of this: Some people were already 30 when
they first heard of AIDS.)
But even more astounding and tragic is how the world
has changed in these two decades. The sexual activity most closely
associated with AIDS has become more mainstream, more protected,
more promoted than ever before in American history.
Though not by everyone. If May 31 was the anniversary of AIDS first
being diagnosed, these early June weeks mark the anniversary of
some weighty decisions that were made by homosexuals. For many,
it seems, the outbreak of the disease had provided just the right
incentive to "go straight."
But soon, homosexual leaders were reacting in all the wrong ways,
Toronto homosexual John McKellar (the founder and president of HOPE,
Homosexuals Opposed to Pride Extremism) told the National Catholic
Register (which I edit look for these quotes in the issue
on newsstands June 13).
McKellar says gay leaders should have told homosexuals to stop having
anal sex; they should have closed the bathhouses, and they should
have instituted standard operating procedure for epidemics (mandatory
reporting, etc.). If they had done so, precious lives could have
Instead, McKellar says, "It was more important for them to canonize
the victims of the disease
than to condemn the behavior that
caused their deaths." They were worried rightly so, adds
McKellar about further stigmatizing homosexuals.
Well, the strategy worked. Homosexuality is becoming less stigmatized
every day. But the consequences have been devastating.
Reporter David Curtin compiled these statistics: Overall, male homosexuals
and bisexuals between 23 and 29 are becoming infected at a rate
of 4.4% annually, and the annual infection rate among blacks of
that age group stands at an alarming 14.7%.
Last year Dr. Ronald Valdiserri of the National Center for HIV,
STD and TB Prevention reported that the rate of HIV infection among
homosexuals in San Francisco had nearly tripled over a two-year
period, rising from 1.3% in 1997 to 3.7% in 1999. Dr. Willi McFarland
of the San Francisco Public Health Department reported a dramatic
decrease in consistent condom usage, from 70% in 1994 to 54% in
In terms of AIDS infections, it's like the 80s all over again, Centers
for Disease Control epidemiologist Linda Valleroy recently told
The Washington Times.
Perhaps this is simply because of too much trust in new life-extending
AIDS drugs. Or perhaps it's because homosexuals are hard-wired to
What the data does seem to suggest is that the Catholic Church,
previously presumed to be out-of-touch, may have been the only one
with the right answer all along.
Many have tut-tutted the Church for opposing condoms even as an
AIDS prevention tool. Some have even called the Church complicit
in AIDS deaths. But, as it has turned out, condoms aren't a very
good AIDS-prevention tool after all. It's the Catholic way that
is saving lives in Africa.
As Msgr. Jacques Suaudeau of the Pontifical Academy for the Family
wrote last year: "The publicity given to the condom in the fight
against HIV/AIDS could have an effect contrary to what is desired
inasmuch as such publicity might lead people to riskier sexual behavior
because of the sense of safety they feel when using a prophylactic."
He went on to point out the one way we know we can prevent AIDS:
Save sex for marriage. He and millions of celibate priests prove
that life without sex is well within human capabilities (no snickers,
please cases of priestly infidelities are miniscule, percentage-wise,
the claims of scandal-hungry journalists notwithstanding).
And there are plenty of others who have learned to do without sex.
For one, homosexuals with AIDS. When I lived in San Francisco, friends
and I spent many hours talking to them at Mother Teresa's Gift of
Love home. They were as varied as any group is, but they had a few
things in common: They liked to smoke (a lot); they all assumed
that any young male in their midst was also a homosexual (which
introduced whole new conversation topics to us Catholic types);
and the kind of sex that landed them there had lost all its charm.
Others who have moved past homosexual sex are the homosexuals who
participated in a study by Dr. Robert Spitzer (who, in 1973, convinced
the Psychiatric Association to stop classifying homosexuality as
a mental disorder).
The subjects in Spitzer's study 66% changed. They
became heterosexual for at least the five years of the study, through
mentoring relationships with buddies of the same sex, and via psychological
therapy. Of the 200 subjects, nearly 75% of the men and 50% of the
women had found spouses by the end. (Find the full
One of those happily married men spoke with the Register
and told us about the 2-year-old daughter he and his wife
now have. Chance are, she'll probably learn about AIDS in elementary
school. And she'll probably have friends who will die of it
that is, unless we stop the deadly condom games, and get serious
about saving precious lives.