By Kathleen Gilbert

MANILA, Philippines, May 12, 2009 ( – A group of Catholic medical professionals based in the Philippines has stated that condom promotion has failed to curb the spread of AIDS. The group said that it agreed with a widely-criticized recent statement by Pope Benedict XVI in which he endorsed a renewed respect for sexuality in facing the AIDS epidemic, rather than condom use.

“Condoms are highly dangerous,” said Yolly Eileen Gamutam, head of Asia’s Catholic Association of Doctors, Nurses and Health Professionals (ACIM-Asia), in an article on the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines website.

“If we are promoting truthful public information then tell the people that using condoms is dangerous.”

Gamutam referenced the HIV crisis in Thailand, where widespread promotion and use of condoms has failed to curb the rise of HIV.

By the end of 2003, Thailand, with a population of 63 million, registered 570,000 HIV-positive adults and children. Gamutam compared the statistic to the Philippines, where only 9,000 Filipinos were HIV-positive out of a population of 80 million. 500 died of AIDS in the Philippines that year, while 58,000 perished in Thailand.

The data, said Gamutam, showed that “the condom use program in Thailand is not effective.”

“Even if all brothels were required to have supplies of condoms, and if they were available in all supermarkets, bars, restaurants, and other public gathering places still it would not deter the widespread of HIV/AIDS,” she said.

She agreed with Pope Benedict XVI that abstinence and conjugal fidelity are the best way to combat the disease.

In past years the Philippines had earned dire forecasts from family planning groups, who said the nation was “courting an AIDS epidemic” for sustaining a policy against condoms. Despite protests from Roman Catholic leaders, and a continuing low rate of HIV, the Philippines government began promoting condoms in 2008.

ACIM-Asia criticized the lobby group, Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD), which it calls “vehemently opposed to the Catholic Church and the pro-life cause,” for pushing the Philippine government to further fund contraception. The lobby is financially supported by members of the European Parliament.

199 members of the European Parliament last week had voted in favor of a resolution – voted down by 253 others – to condemn Pope Benedict XVI’s answer to a question regarding the AIDS problem. The pontiff in March said that the solution to the AIDS crisis mainly required “a humanization of sexuality” and renewed care for the suffering.

“If the soul is lacking, if Africans do not help one another, the scourge cannot be resolved by distributing condoms; quite the contrary, we risk worsening the problem,” he said.

Although Benedict’s statement continues to draw fury from liberal groups around the world, some AIDS experts, including the head of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at Harvard University, admit that evidence supports the pope’s position.

“The pope is correct, or put it a better way, the best evidence we have supports the pope’s comments,” Harvard’s Dr. Edward Green told National Review Online in March. (

See related coverage:

Spanish Congress May Condemn Pope’s Remarks Denouncing Condom Use

International Organizations Gather 40,000 Signatures So Far in Support of Pope’s Statements on Condoms

Prominent Ugandan AIDS Activist Thanks Pope for Opposition to Condoms

Harvard AIDS Expert Says Pope is Correct on Condom Distribution Making AIDS Worse