July 11, 2002

CHRISTIAN BLOGGER MARTIN ROTH is disturbed by figures showing a correlation between non-catholic Christianity and HIV/AIDS incidence in Africa, and shows commendable honesty in worrying about what that means.

I’m not sure it means much. Over the years I’ve seen a lot of charts correlating AIDS incidence with everything from language to circumcision rates.

Roth also notes that Islamic areas tend to have lower rates. This may well be true (among other things, the widespread Muslim custom of washing before and after sex may help). On the other hand, they may just have lower reporting rates, for reasons of stigma. (This may be true of the Catholic Christian areas, too.)

Why AIDS has spread so extensively in Africa, and why rates are so different in different parts of Africa, remains a mystery. Religion might be the explanation, but there are a lot of other candidates.

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