Catholic Ethicists on HIV/AIDS Prevention, edited by James F. Keenan

When I mentioned this book to HIV activists, public health officials and fellow Protestant clergy, all were quick to offer a smart remark, dismissing the likelihood that Roman Catholics could have anything of value to say about HIV prevention. But they were wrong. This book lays the necessary groundwork for an agenda of mutual self-interest for those serious about ending the spread of AIDS. This book makes a start at building a bridge between public health and theological reflection.

Keenan begins with the simple observation that how we define a problem also defines the solution. He argues that Catholic moral theology can be used either to build a prevention-oriented strategy or to undermine it. And he boldly states that "certain moral positions adopted by church personnel are at odds with some relatively effective HIV-prevention measures favored by Catholic health workers involved in the pandemic."

The 38 Roman Catholic authors of these essays remind us that HIV disease exists throughout the world. It disproportionately affects the poor, women, children and those who are socially marginalized. In the U.S. this population includes gay men, injection drug users and sex workers, and is disproportionately found in communities of color. Globally HIV primarily affects heterosexuals. This is increasingly true in the U.S. as well, though infection rates may be rising again in some gay communities.