On 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 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.