September 20th, 2007
02:00 PM ET
11 years ago

Huckabee skeptical of condom use to fight AIDS in Africa

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

Filed under: Mike Huckabee • South Carolina
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Common Sense

    Has this clown ever even been to Africa? Does he REALLY think that condoms would not be effective in DRAMATICALLY, and I mean DRA-MATIC-ALLY reduce the spread of AIDS when it is currently the worst epidemic in the world, let alone Africa? This reeks of radical religious backing for this type of reasoning.

    September 20, 2007 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  2. J Dobson, Atlanta, GA

    Just come out and say it Mike. You want Africans to die. There is no doubt whatsoever that condoms are more effective than promoting abstinence and being faithful. Most infections in Africa are between comitted couples, and even priests can't practice abstinence. Get a clue!

    September 20, 2007 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  3. Bob, San Francisco, CA

    Of course condoms are not 100% effective, but they will help dramatically. I appreciate that a Christian conservative like Huckabee at least concedes that they can be somewhat helpful. I've always been amused how most conservatives condemn abortion and welfare, but don't support sexual education and contraceptives.

    September 20, 2007 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  4. afmca

    What a crock. His comments have immediately added to the number of AIDS patients every where. I know his religious wacko formula is for abstinence .. but as study after study has proven, this doesn't work. It plays well to his pseudo-christian base, but it is condemning thousands of women and men to death. Not very Christian like to me.

    September 20, 2007 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  5. Mike Huckabee, Clueless as Ever

    Huckabee spewed: "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.”

    Whose they? The Militia rapists or the women victims?

    Huckabee, the spread of AIDS comes from the rape of the women by HIV positive militia gangs with guns. And so their children are born HIV positive.

    I doubt the women choose to "live dangerously and recklessly" in a continent that's rife with warfare...

    Your just a clueless white man in a rich country.

    He also spewed: “The details are something we've got to focus on as we get there.”

    The details are men and kids with guns raping and pillaging villages as they go.

    Yes, "abstinence, being faithful, and consistent condom use" are good measures, except for the part when you’re raped at gunpoint by several strangers.

    Perhaps you should arm those women with guns instead of condoms. It's not like they are amoral sex addicts over there.

    September 20, 2007 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  6. Stephen

    Nothing in life is 100% Huckabee, this is the real world, not some holy-alternate universe. Condoms are effective when used properly, yes the only way not to get HIV is to not have sex at all, but try and tell that to a defenseless child in Sub-Saharan Africa, who can't defend against someone much older and much stronger trying to force sex on them.

    I could go on for days about stuff like this.

    September 20, 2007 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  7. afmca, Baltimore, MD

    These comments by the religious right do a disservice to the health care of people throughout the third world. There total belief in abstinence is counter-productive and naive. It may make them feel self-righteous, but at the end of the day it just leaves more people sick and dead.

    September 20, 2007 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  8. Andrew, Ann Arbor, Michigan

    Over 25 million Africans currently live with HIV. Over 12 million African children have been orphaned by AIDS. About a fifth of the residents of South Africa and Zambia are infected with HIV. In Botswana, Lesotho, and Zimbabwe, that rate is even higher. In Swaziland, ONE-THIRD of the nation's residents are infected with HIV. Few Africans in any of these countries have the money to access expensive AIDS treatment.

    It must be very pleasant for Governor Huckabee to make these kinds of morality calls from the comfort of his safe. air-conditioned Arkansas home. For those U.S. citizens who are actually trying to get handle on the AIDS crisis in Africa, we have already come to the conclusion that perhaps now is now the time to impose a value system regarding abstinence, and just try to save as many lives as possible. You would think a pro-life candidate would agree.

    Perhaps the governor would like to explain his policy to the people of Swaziland?

    September 20, 2007 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  9. Sarah, Kansas City, MO

    Why do our countries republican politicians insist that their values must be imposed upon others. Condoms are the best alternative for avoiding HIV/aids. Abstinence, while a noble ideal, just doesn't work in places that have a different culture.

    The catholic church also likes perpetuate the myth about condoms because of their problem with birth control. Our problems in the world today are directly related to the fact that we have far too many people. The christian right as well as the muslims would like us all to continue to have children when it is clear that the world does not have the resources to take care of them. To have one of our presidential canidates promote the idea that condoms may not be effective does a huge diservice to a part of the world that could use a few less people, as well as right to have healthy children when they do have them.

    September 20, 2007 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  10. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    "I’d want to see how that’s used." Take one banana and one condom ... . Huck's too much of a religious joke to be an authority on this topic. AIDS will continue to decimate Africa so long as African governments deny the connection between sex and the disease, and the men refuse to use condoms.

    September 20, 2007 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  11. Ryan, New York, NY

    The Bible has shown that even abstinence isn't 100%, since Mary of Nazareth abstained from sex, but still got pregnant somehow.

    All jokes aside, any percentage of protection more than the 0% that comes with completely unprotected sex would be a step in the right direction, whether it's 10% or 90%.

    September 20, 2007 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  12. laurinda,shokan,ny

    I guess he's not the brightest crayon in the box now, is he?

    September 20, 2007 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  13. Tony Nazar, Wilton, ME

    I'm amazed that he didn't preach "just say no" abstinence as a substitute.

    If condoms will spare one person – it's worth it Huckabee.

    Become a televangelist and forget the Presidency. That's where the big bucks are.

    September 20, 2007 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  14. Bill Charleston SC

    Can you people not read? Mike Huckabee did not say not to use condoms, just that they could be more effective with education.

    I'll admit I don't know much about what is going on in Africa, but if the AIDS epidemic is being caused by armed men raping women, condoms will be useless, right?

    September 20, 2007 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  15. James,Lake City,Florida

    I am getting tired of paying taxes and my money being used to fight deseases,wars, and aide to countries other than the U.S.A. Imagine what our country would be like if the hundreds of billions of dollars that are spent each year where directed to fund programs here in America. We deserve it, we paid it, and it belongs to us not them.

    September 20, 2007 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  16. Moe, NY

    This man is probably one of those religious fanatics who, if they had their way, would just send bibles. Will someone please educate this man regarding HIV/AIDS.

    September 20, 2007 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  17. Veronica, Stamford, CT

    I typically like Huckabee (well, he kinda lost me on the evolution thing); although he was a minister, he doesn't allow his religion to define him and for a christian conservative these days, that's bonus to me. But ... he kinda lost me on this one ... isn't "an ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure"?

    September 20, 2007 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  18. Joe Schmoe, Maryland

    Bill from Charleston your a tard.
    Condoms and education don't prevent one from getting raped at gunpoint. DUurrr!!

    September 20, 2007 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  19. Luis, Miami, Florida

    Go ahead America elect yet another moron. "Family values” does anyone else question these so called values? Instead of wasting 10 billion a month in Iraq perhaps we should be providing a little education to the great field of GOP presidential contenders… Thompson wants to drill for Oil in the EVERGLADES (belongs to the world)… Huckabee wants abstinence and being faithful in Africa as opposed to use condoms and a good sensitive workable policy. All of that is without mentioning Tancredo he’s the real deal and his proposals to deal with immigration are GREAT!!!.

    September 20, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  20. Paster Bill, Tennesee

    Everyone knows that condom use promotes deviant sexual behavor. We need a faith-based approach to fighting AIDS – pray hard enough and God will prevent you from getting it, unless you're a sinner.

    September 20, 2007 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  21. Peter Amityville, New York

    The only fool-proof way to stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases is abstinence. Condom use encourages irresponsible behavior and kudos to Mike Huckabee for saying this.

    September 20, 2007 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  22. Terri, Conway, Arkansas

    Save your breath, folks. I've lived in Arkansas for 10 years and was here when the Huckster was governor. We are glad to be rid of him so the state can begin to move into the 20th century (yes, I know this is the 21st century). Huckabee is delusional in nearly every way. He is running for President because he doesn't want a real job and thinks back-woods rationale and corn-pone wit is going to get him that job in the White House and

    September 20, 2007 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  23. David, Gilbert Arizona

    How some of you are trying to tie women being raped to Huckabee's comment on condom use is mind boggling. Rapists in Africa, especially the militia, aren't going to use a condom regardless so that argument is completely stupid.

    The condom campaign can only apply to people who willingly engage in consentual sex, whether they are married, living together, or just fooling around.

    The discussion is whether the United States should fund programs in HIV stricken areas that advocate condoms. There are candidates running for President in this election who do not wish U.S. tax dollars to fund such programs. Brownback is one of them.

    When pressed on the matter Huckabee hedged. He acknowledged the use of condoms but pointed out their less than 100% reliability. Basically, in my opinion, Huckabee never answered the question. All he said is we have to look at those issues when we get there.

    That's the type of politician, not unlike Hillary and her tap dance routines, that make me not want to vote for them.

    September 20, 2007 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  24. Gary, Detroit, Mich.

    Another 'Repugnant-can Holier-Than-Thou Family Values Phony'. Will this arrogant GOP bible-thumping bs ever end?

    September 20, 2007 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  25. Pete, New Hampshire

    As someone who has been to Africa and works as a director for an organization that runs an orphanage full of children that lost their parents to AIDS, what Mike Huckabee is saying correct, but his remarks show that he is not going to go far enough.

    While condoms do help a lot, people dont use them as they don't fully understand the AIDS virus due to lack of education. Condoms also cost MONEY, which these people do not have or relief organizations have enough of. He is right that education is needed and other action must be taken to get to the root cause of the spread of aids. Condoms are what we call a "bandaid" solution to the AIDS epidemic. Condoms alone wont effectively end the AIDS tragedy in Africa. We have to think about deeper solutions which begins at the most basic level of education, first how the AIDS virus is transmitted and how to use condoms correctly.The single thing that is missing from the equation in Africa is education.

    I think it is silly to write him off as an idiot Christian for saying that condoms wont protect them entirely.

    His basic philosophy of abstinence or having just one partner is biologically the best solution, but that isn't realistic. We all need to get beyond condom use to get to the bottom of curbing this tragedy.

    September 20, 2007 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
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