Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister campaigning for president here Wednesday, cast doubt on the effectiveness of condom use in combating AIDS in Africa.
Asked by CNN if he would direct U.S. funds to health programs that provide condoms in Africa, Huckabee demurred.
"I’d want to see how that’s used ... I've been a little reluctant to think that condoms alone are the most effective way,” Huckabee said. “It certainly is more effective than not having them. But I think helping people understand that condoms do have a failure rate, and they are not totally 100 percent successful. And it gives some people a false sense of security thinking that they can still live dangerously and recklessly and that that’s going to be a fail safe protection when it obviously is not.”
Huckabee made the comments after speaking to a group of about 70 supporters at a restaurant in Columbia where the former Arkansas governor emphasized his consistent position on social issues.
“You’re not going to go to the Internet and find some YouTube moment of me saying something dramatically different,” he said in what appeared to be a subtle dig at one of his rivals for the GOP presidential nomination, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Romney has come under fire for his past position on abortion.
Huckabee did express support for combating disease in Africa in other ways, such as providing clean drinking water to fight typhoid and dysentery, and mosquito nets to combat malaria. He also said he would work with existing programs that are already effective in fighting HIV/AIDS, but added: “The details are something we've got to focus on as we get there.”
USAID, the U.S. agency in charge of providing aid to foreign countries, currently has an “ABC” approach to preventing HIV abroad: abstinence, being faithful, and consistent condom use. USAID, which exists under the umbrella of the U.S. State Department, does direct funds to programs in Africa that distribute condoms and educate about condom use. The group’s web site states that, “While no barrier method is 100 percent effective, correct and consistent use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of transmission of HIV, some other sexually transmitted infections, and of unintended pregnancy.”
The United Nations says condoms are “an essential weapon in the fight against HIV/AIDS.”
- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby