Last week the US congress finally managed to reverse a law prohibiting anyone with the AIDS/HIV virus from visiting or immigrating to the US. The Law was established in 1987 and codified into law in 1993, when conservative ideology labeled AIDS the "gay" plague despite scientific and medical information suggesting the illness was much more widely spread
The illness was used in conservative pulpits in America to preach hate against gay men, but the Catholic Church responded to the illness with its usual sense of creativity, actually teaching the faithful that condoms cause AIDS. Christopher Hitchens reports in God is Not Great (Hatchet Books:2007)that Cardinal Alfonso Lopes de Trujillo, the acting president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, warned a group of the devout that all condoms are secretly made with microscopic holes, through which the AIDS virus can pass. He also cites an Archbishop in Nairobi who suggested that women should prefer to die of AIDS as sexual martyrs than use condoms.(45-46)
Lest one thinks such barbaric practices are limited to less "civilized" societies, US policies on AIDS education here in the enlightened US would put that idea to rest. The Bush Administration has been cutting back on money to AIDS education programs that provide condoms (presumably without those nasty holes) and replacing medical knowledge with pseudoscience to suggest that abstinence programs work just as well. Such religious driven practices create unwilling sexual martyrs here on a daily basis.
While we make a step forward by allowing people with HIV/AIDS to immigrate and visit the US, we still have a marathon to run when it comes to irradicating the influence of dangerous religious ideology over our public health system.