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Press Release
Catholics at XVII International AIDS Conference Tell Pope: End Ban on Condoms

July 31, 2008

Mexico City -- As thousands gather in Mexico City for the 17th International AIDS Conference August 3-8, 2008, Catholics for Choice and its Latin American sister organizations, Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir, will be highlighting Catholic opposition to the Vatican's ban on condoms using materials developed for the Condoms4Life campaign, www.Condoms4Life.org.

From the opening moments of the conference, attendees will have a chance to ask Pope Benedict to lift the ban on condoms and join in efforts to promote ethical, comprehensive and balanced approaches to HIV prevention. As South African Bishop Kevin Dowling noted, condoms are vital "to stop transmission of a death-dealing virus." The campaign supports Catholics in using these life-saving and life-affirming devices and calls on the hierarchy to join others in the active prevention of the spread of HIV/AIDS throughout the world.

According to a recent poll commissioned by Catholics for Choice, which interviewed Catholics in Ghana, Ireland, Mexico, the Philippines and the United States, support for condom use among Catholics is overwhelming. When asked if "using condoms is prolife because it helps save lives by preventing the spread of AIDS," 90% of Catholics in Mexico, 86% in Ireland, 79% in the US, 77% in the Philippines and 59% in Ghana agreed. Unfortunately, the Catholic hierarchy's position holds the most sway in the countries least able to deal economically and medically with the disease.

"Catholics the world over unequivocally state that using condoms is prolife and disagree with the Vatican's ban on contraception, including condoms," said Jon O'Brien, president of Catholics for Choice. "They know, as do the many bishops and priests who have been speaking out in recent years, that the stakes are too high. Every day, more people are infected or are dying from HIV and AIDS."

Catholics for Choice will be engaged at various levels of the conference, presenting skills-building workshops in English and Spanish, making presentations and speeches, and engaging activists throughout the week.

"It is essential that activists around the world -- Catholic or not -- learn the truth about what Catholics really think concerning condom use and develop arguments to counter the Vatican's dangerous claims about them," said O'Brien.

"It is critical that the Vatican moves quickly to lift the ban on condoms. The ban is having a devastating impact in the global south and people are dying as a result," said Teresa Lanza, executive director of Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir in Bolivia. "In the global north, it's much easier for people to ignore the ban and buy condoms. In the global south, in less privileged countries such as Bolivia -- where the Catholic hierarchy has significant influence on public policy and people often rely on Catholic-run facilities to access health care -- the picture is very different. The ban can mean the difference between life and death. I urge the Vatican to lift the ban immediately," continued Lanza.

For more information, please contact in Washington, DC: Jen Heitel Yakush at +1 (202) 986-6093; in Mexico: David Nolan at +1 (202) 492-6092. To learn more about the Condoms4Life campaign and why Good Catholics Use Condoms, visit www.Condoms4Life.org or in Mexico: Area D, Booth 415 in the Exhibition Area.




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