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Condoms and the Vatican

BenedictOn the day that UNAIDS comes out with new - and depressing - figures on the number of people living with HIV around the world, it's either good news or, again, depressing, to hear that the Vatican has just concluded an internal study on the use of condoms to fight AIDS. The results of the study aren't available yet - they still have to go through the pope - but those involved say the report looks at both the "scientific and moral points" of using condoms. Last year, Benedict XVI, speaking to African bishops, went on the record saying he rejects the use of condoms to fight AIDS, asserting that they lead to a moral breakdown in society. So, I'm not holding my breath imagining that anything imaginative might emerge from Vatican City when it comes to fighting HIV. But I do hope that the authors of the Vatican report take a moment today to consider the update from UNAIDS about how AIDS continues to devastate every region of the world. Infections are up AIDSribbon everywhere this year.

  • There have been more than 4 million new HIV infections in 2006.
  • An incredible 65 percent of those new infections have been in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • 2.9 million people died of AIDS-related illnesses this year, nearly 400,000 of them under the age of 15.

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When it rains, it pours

flood After suffering one of its worst droughts in a decade, the Horn of Africa is now the victim of heavy rains and severe flooding. The United Nations estimates that about 1.8 million people across Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Eritrea are currently affected by the worst flooding in half a century. Bridges and roads have been destroyed, making access for international aid and assistance much more difficult. At least 80 people have already died from the flooding, and the conditions are sure to have devastating effects on homes, livelihoods, and the spread of infectious disease. Plus, the worst isn't over yet. The rains are expected to last a few more weeks.