Croatian Conference of Bishops Says HIV/AIDS Education Program Conflicts With ‘Christian Morality’
A high school education program that includes HIV/AIDS prevention messages promoting safer sex is "explicitly against the Christian morality," the Croatian Conference of Bishops said in a statement, Agence France-Presse reports. The program, titled "Youth Educating Youth About AIDS -- MEMOAIDS," is taught by teachers and peer educators through optional workshops in high schools. The sessions focus on HIV/AIDS prevention and condom use to help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (Agence France-Presse, 1/28). The statement, which the bishops released after they discussed the issue at a meeting on Monday, said that the program is "unacceptable" and "held under the pretext that it aims to protect adolescents from AIDS." The bishops also said that parents were not asked for permission for their children to participate in the program, adding that "student and teacher believers are forced to participate in the program, which goes against Christian morality, against their conscience" (Vukic, Associated Press, 1/28). The bishops also expressed concern that "[u]nder the pretext of protection of adolescents against AIDS, a technique on how to use preventive means is actually being practiced." The bishops did not make recommendations for an alternative HIV/AIDS prevention program, Agence France-Presse reports (Agence France-Presse, 1/28). The bishops also did not call for the program to be stopped, and it is unknown if the statement will affect the future of the program, according to the Associated Press. Although there are fewer than 150 registered HIV/AIDS cases in the country, health officials recently have increased their awareness efforts, the Associated Press reports (Associated Press, 1/28). Approximately 88% of the country's 4.4 million people are Catholic (Agence France-Presse, 1/28).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.