Crusading for change
- By: Sophie Arie
For Luyanda Ngonyama, like the rest of his generation of South Africans, AIDS is part of everyday life. But condoms are not. One in five South Africans is living with HIV or AIDS, more people than in any other country.
For years, working for the South African Catholic Bishops Council AIDS programme, Mr Ngonyama, aged 32, saw fellow Catholics grapple with the moral dilemma over whether to use all available methods of protection. “What about my religion?” they would ask. “If I have sex [outside marriage] and use a condom, I'll be committing a double sin.”
Mr Ngonyama became so uncomfortable with the Catholic church's official line on condoms—that they “promote immoral behaviour” and don't help protect from AIDS—that he gave up his job as HIV coordinator in the council programme. He now works for Treatment Action Campaign, the country's most influential AIDS activist group and a prominent pro-condom voice.