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International News

Vatican Repeats Opposition to Condoms, Says Chastity Only Surefire Way to Prevent AIDS Spread

November 6, 2002

The Vatican on Wednesday repeated its opposition to condom use to fight AIDS, saying chastity was the best way to prevent the spread of HIV.

The Vatican position may sound "ridiculous in the society in which we live," acknowledged Monsignor Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Workers. But there was only one way to prevent HIV from spreading, he said: "We say that prevention... is called chastity." Barragan's comments came ahead of a three-day Vatican symposium on health care in the world's Catholic hospitals and clinics.

The Vatican has been criticized for its steadfast opposition to condom use, especially in poor regions like Africa that have been devastated by the epidemic. Developing countries are home to more than 90 percent of the world's 37.1 million HIV-infected people. Seventy percent of these, or 26 million people, live in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Church has argued that condoms do not offer 100 percent protection and only contribute to what Barragan called a "pan-sexual" society in which sex has been separated into an act of pleasure or procreation. "In this separation, according to this mentality, it's absurd that the church says 'no' to condoms. But we have another ethical horizon: that is life," he said.

Two years ago in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Monsignor Jacques Suadeau of the Pontifical Council for the Family hinted at a possible softening of the church's stance, saying condoms were one of the ways to "contain" the spread of HIV. He stressed that chastity was the only way to prevent the spread of the virus, but that in the case of Thai sex workers, for example, condom use was a "lesser evil." Later, however, Suadeau denied he was signaling a change.

Back to other CDC news for November 6, 2002

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Adapted from:
Associated Press

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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