Dr. John Kinkel

New Book and HBO Film Bring Issue of AIDS Prevention Back to Light

Film and book highlight the failures of U.S. politicians and the Catholic Church to help AIDS victims


Rochester, MI -- (ReleaseWire) -- 05/30/2014 --A recent HBO film called “The Normal Heart” has earned a lot of publicity recently. The film details the story of how the United States government failed many AIDS victims in the early 1980s due to unrealistic directives (abstinence), homophobia and simply ignoring the pandemic.

In his new book, “Papal Paralysis: How the Catholic Church Dealt with the AIDS Crisis,” Dr. John Kinkel demonstrates how the Catholic Church misfired on many of the same cylinders in dealing with the AIDS crisis. With HBO's film gaining publicity and bringing the issue of AIDS awareness and treatment back to the public eye, this book has now become even more relevant.

"We know all about how United States leaders ignored the AIDS problem for years and thought that it was specifically a 'gay' disease," said Dr. Kinkel. "The HBO film does an excellent job of highlighting this. But religious groups were just as homophobic and unhelpful in their approach to the disease, and the Catholic Church was no exception."

The book, which came out in January, discusses how Pope John Paul II told Catholics to fight the spread of AIDS through marital fidelity and abstinence, but failed to promote the use of condoms to help prevent the disease, much to the chagrin of medical and policy experts. The Church also displayed its homophobic nature more than once. At one point, Archbishop John Foley stated that "AIDS is a form of natural selection against homosexual behavior," and was never punished by the Pope for these ludicrous remarks.

It wasn't until 1987 that the U.S. Catholic Church admitted that condoms could be used as a last resort to help fight AIDS, and this was after the CDC finally declared that HIV/AIDS was a worldwide pandemic. According to the CDC, more than 636,000 people have died of AIDS in the United States alone.

"Both the U.S. Catholic bishops and secular leaders were far too slow to grasp the true nature and extent of AIDS, and because of that, many lives were lost in the 1980s," said Dr. Kinkel. "HBO has done an excellent job of telling the story about how United States public policy failed these victims. It is important that people are made aware of how the Catholic Church failed them as well."

“Papal Paralysis: How the Catholic Church Dealt with the AIDS Crisis” may now be purchased through its publisher, Lexington Books. For more information about the book and Dr. Kinkel's views and writings on AIDS prevention, please visit www.LexingtonBooks.com or call toll free at 1-800-462-6420.

About Dr. John Kinkel
Dr. John Kinkel is a professor of medical sociology at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He has written a number of books on the Catholic Church and various social issues, including “Papal Paralysis: How the Vatican Dealt with the AIDS Crisis.” He holds an M.A. from Marquette University and a Ph.D. from Ohio State University.