Make a difference. Fight HIV AIDS
- Bp. Rolando Santos CM
The Catholic Diocese of Alotau celebrated World HIV AIDS, a day ahead of its actual celebration on 1st December.
The staff of Star of Hope, the HIV AIDS Center of the Diocese of Alotau, headed the awareness march to places where most people gathered: the wharf, town plaza and marketplace. They shouted slogans like: "Make a difference. Fight HIV AIDS."
In his speech, Bp. Rolando Santos said that they are doing this not to scare people but to give them hope. PNG has the highest incidence of HIV AIDS in the whole of Oceania. However, this can be reversed if we exercise greater self-discipline, social responsibility, love for family and community, and respect for God's laws.
He said that the Church is not discouraging or condemning sex, which is the primary way through which HIV AIDS is mostly transmitted. Rather, the Church wants people to exercise responsible sex and enjoy it as God wants it to be. Sex is beautiful, created by God and sacred. What makes it ugly and destructive is when it is used outside of the plan of God.
Bp. Santos said that sex should only be used within marriage, and not outside of marriage or before marriage. Having multiple sexual partners, with those we do not personally know, can endanger our life and health and those of our spouses and children.
Bp. Santos also spoke against the myth that condoms and contraceptives can protect oneself from HIV AIDS. A Harvard research showed no evidence to this. Rather, the use of condoms and other contraceptives can even worsen the situation as seen in several countries like Thailand since it emboldens the user to take greater risk of engaging oneself in irresponsible and illegitimate sex and increase the risk of getting HIV AIDS or transmitting it to one's sexual partner.
If a person doubts whether she has acquired the virus, then she should go to Star of Hope or one of the centres for testing and counselling. If the test is positive, she should refrain from having sex so as not to contaminate others, especially one's spouse. If it is negative, she can enjoy sex with her married spouse without fear.
Bp Santos encouraged the public to take the test without fear of having their identity known. He also encouraged them to be faithful in following God's commandments and not engage in sex outside of marriage. We should fight not only HIV AIDS but also adultery, fornication, prostitution, pornography, sexual violence against women and treating persons as objects of pleasure. We should start educating our children and teach them moral discipline, the beauty of love, the sacredness of sex and the exercise of responsible sex within marriage. Purity, chastity and self-discipline based on the holy fear of God and respect for God's laws, and not the condom, is the best protection to HIV AIDS and the way to truly enjoy sex as God wants it to be.