(This is in reply to Mr. Carvajal's column, published Sunday on the Opinion section.)

I LOVE a robust debate, and you can imagine my delight when, in the March 7 Sun Star, I read Mr. Carvajal’s article “Condoms,” a topic after my own heart.

In his article, Mr. Carvajal praised DOH’s Sec. Esperanza I. Cabral for distributing condoms, saying “it is the duty of a responsible Health department to put in place a reliable first line of defense such as the lowly condom.”

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Hmm, not only did Mr. Carvajal use “responsible” to describe the DOH move, but also “reliable” to describe the condom, so I’d assume that, at the very least, and as a responsible newspaper columnist, Mr. Carvajal did a modicum of research on the topic before going out with guns blazing in favor of the DOH move.

I’m saying this because my own research shows that the condom is far from being a “reliable” public health intervention against HIV/AIDS, which makes the DOH move far from being “responsible.”

Here’s what I got from Catholic Answers: “Condoms have a substantial failure rate for AIDS transmission. The risk of fatal infection is quantifiably significant. Among heterosexual couples studied using condoms in which one partner was infected, 30 percent became infected within the year" (M. Fischl, "Evaluation of Heterosexual Partners, Children, and Household Contacts of Adults with AIDS," Journal of the American Medical Association 257 [1987]: 447*449).”

I’ve checked the Journal of the American Medical Association, and it’s there all right. May I ask Mr. Carvajal for his comment please?

Here’s another source given by Catholic Answers: "Condom use was not significantly associated with protection against infection" (Padian, Windlestein, et al, "Male-to-Female Transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus," Journal of the American Medical Association 257 (1987): 788).”

And here’s a third one: "There are no clinical (human) data supporting the value of condoms in preventing the spread of a range of diseases including . . . human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the precursor of AIDS" (Lawrence J. McNamee, M.D., Brian F. McNamee, M.D., AIDS: The Nation*s First Politically Protected Disease. National Medical Legal Publishing House, 1988, 102*113).”

And a fourth: "Sayings such as ‘the way to get AIDS is from unprotected sex” should be avoided since they imply that “protected” sex is safe. It is not" (W. Shepherd Smith, Jr. "Another Point of View: AIDS, HIV and Sex Education," AIDS/HIV News, January/February 1992, 12).”

I'd like to point out to Mr. Carvajal that the findings quoted here are by professionals, medical men who should what they speak about. I'd ask Mr. Carvajal, therefore, to show me the findings of people who are equally medical professionals.

May I also ask Mr. Carvajal for his comment on the Uganda experience? Uganda had a 30 percent HIV/AIDS rate in the 1980s, now it’s 2 percent, and, Mr. Carvajal, it was not condoms that licked the epidemic. On the contrary, Mr. Carvajal, the Ugandan president, Pres. Museveni emphatically thumbed down condoms as a way to check the spread of HIV AIDS.

Would Mr. Carvajal care to know what licked the AIDS epidemic in Uganda? You’re right, Mr. Carvajal, abstinence and staying faithful to one’s spouse, the very things the Church recommended, the very things you sneer at.