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Catholic Church's Opposition to Condom Use Contributes to Spread of HIV in Latin America, UNAIDS Official Says

October 24, 2007

The Roman Catholic Church's opposition to condom use is contributing to the spread of HIV in Latin America, Alberto Stella -- UNAIDS coordinator for Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica -- said on Monday, Reuters reports.

"In Latin America, the use of condoms has been demonized, but if they were used in every relation, I guarantee the epidemic would be resolved in the region," Stella said. He added that youth "start to be sexually active between 15 and 19 without sex education" -- a factor that contributes to the spread of HIV. In addition, evidence indicates that promoting abstinence is "not working," according to Stella.

About half of the 1.1 billion Catholics worldwide live in Latin America, and the Roman Catholic Church "holds sway" in the region, Reuters reports. About 1.7 million people in Latin America are living with HIV/AIDS. The number of new HIV cases in the region increased to 410,000 in 2006 from 320,000 in 2004, according to UNAIDS (Reuters, 10/23).

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