According to the Daily Telegraph, the Pope is now saying HIV "cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems".
The absence of logic is astonishing.
You may as well say that using condoms makes the likelihood of pregnancy higher.
The simple mathematical truth is that near universal condom use would dramatically contain the spread of HIV. It would NOT eliminate it, but by dramatically cutting the rate of transmission it will reduce it. After all, this is in part what happened among homosexual men in the Western world. Partly promiscuity reduced, but predominantly condom use became the norm - the rate of transmission reduced significantly.
To say it aggravate the problem is an utter lie, a reckless misnomer that will result in people having unprotected sex because they'll say "condoms make it worse".
He, no doubt thinks, that it is better people abstain from sex, with the threat of HIV being the incentive to abstain. He also probably thinks that the existence of condoms makes it more likely people will have sex, and more likely HIV will be transmitted.
So let's look at the scenarios behind his statement. Assume there are 100,000 in a country who are sexually mature and unmarried, let's assume 15% of those have HIV, so 15,000 are already infected (about the rate in South Africa). Of them, one third are undiagnosed. The scenarios below are rough mathematically, as I haven't exponentially included the chain effect of passing on the virus, but you should get the idea:
Scenario 1: Pope's ideal: All abstain from sex, except after marriage. Assume over 5 years half marry. So 50,000 marry. Of them 15% of the people in those marriages have HIV, of whom one third don't know. It takes 14 acts of intercourse for ALL those married to someone with HIV to be statistically certain of infection. The odds are that married couples will achieve this in 2-3 weeks and may produce children, also infected.
Scenario 2: Pope's policy, promiscuous lifestyle: All have sex with 5 partners over this period, on average 20 times with each person (sex once a fortnight). Those knowingly with HIV restrict this to 2. Odds are that over half of the population have sex with an infected person, and that there is a near certain chance of infection. Around 40,000 get infected. This is given that the rate of HIV infection for unprotected sex is 7%.
Scenario 3: 100% condom use, promiscuous lifestyle: As scenario 2, but all encounters involve a condom. According to a report by the National Institutes of Health (USA) condoms reduce the risk of HIV transmission by 87% (to 0.9%). As a result, while over half the population STILL has sex with an infected person, the odds of infection have dropped from virtually 100% (20 encounters with 7% chance each time), to 18%. Around 15,300 get infected.
Scenario 4: 100% condom use, half marry rest abstain: As scenario 1, but all who are married use condoms. 50,000 married, 15% married to people infected, but it takes them to have sex 111 times in that period before they statistically are all infected, a period of perhaps 6 months, during which HIV testing would have been available to them both easily.
My point is simple. Condoms reduce the incidence of HIV transmission. It works for people who are promiscuous and those who are not. Unless, the Pope wants everyone with HIV to remain unmarried.
It is sheer reckless stupidity, which barely shields the suffering Augustine ascetism of the Vatican. The Pope is either ignorant or would rather more Africans caught HIV as "punishment" for not following the church's teachings than they use simple proven technology to prevent disease transmission.
My problem is, it isn't clear which one it is, or whether it is actually both.
(As an aside, what I'd really like to know is why the church remains obsessed with sex (I can make some psychological assumptions) provisions in the Old Testament, but not those related to shellfish, hair and the like. My first guess is that if we all treated shellfish eating as a hedonistic pleasure, and sex as mundane and uninteresting as breathing, it may be different - it's about sacrifice, denial and suffering).