PBS's Erbe: Pope Benedict 'Horrifically Ignorant'

Hell hath no fury like a feminist writer directing a hissy fit at the pope.

Bonnie Erbe -- the US News & World Report contributing editor and PBS "To the Contrary" host who argued that Bristol Palin is more "mature" than her abstinence education-advocating mother -- finds the pope "horrifically ignorant" when it comes to HIV/AIDS.

What exactly did the pontiff say that set Erbe off? Try, "AIDS cannot be overcome by the distribution of condoms," hardly a controversial, implausible statement, but one that, to Erbe, showed the pope has "no sympathy" for women in Africa.

Yet in the midst of her sermon, Erbe showed it was she herself who was woefully misinformed:

The Pope is correct in saying that AIDS cannot be eradicated by condom use alone. Clearly, when young women are raped or otherwise forced into sex against their will, the men abusing them will not commit to use condoms.

But instead of offering these women useless verbiage, the Pope could have offered the vast resources of the Church to distribute anti-viral foam to young married women in AIDS-infested areas. Foam is the only form of AIDS prevention that young wives completely control and can use without their husbands' permission.

Distributing anti-viral foam to young married women would help prevent the spread of AIDS while still creating the babies the Church so desperately needs to fill its pews. But Pope Benedict made no mention of offering such help to African AIDS victims. He showed no understanding of the terrible lives these women endure, or the damage done to their children, many of whom are born HIV-positive or with AIDS.

But wait a minute, these foams are still in the experimental phase and of questionable preventative effect, commenter "Annette of PA" replied, citing the World Health Organization (WHO):

What "foams" are ready to be distributed? Antiviral foam to prevent HIV transmission is not yet available according to the WHO's website:

http://www.who.int/hiv/topics/microbicides/microbicides/en/

The most promising anti HIV gel, PRO 2000 is still in clinical trials. It's most recent efficacy rating in preventing HIV transmission is 30%.

Also, these foams may not have the desired effect as in SubSaharan cultures, "dry sex" is desired. Without changing the attitude of all (as Benedict is calling for), women will still be victimized.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters