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International News

Vatican Criticizes Condom Machines in Rome School

March 15, 2010

Roman Catholic Church officials are condemning a Rome high school's decision to install condom vending machines as part of educating students about sexuality and HIV prevention. The Keplero school's decision to offer the condoms -- at €2 (US $2.70) for three condoms, lower than the market rate -- is reportedly a first for a school in the Italian capital, though some other European nations have installed the machines in schools to prevent teen pregnancy and STDs. Catholic teachings view sex as a means of procreation within marriage and oppose contraception, including condoms.

Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Rome's vicar, said the decision trivializes sex. It "cannot be approved by Rome's ecclesiastical community or by Christian families who are seriously concerned with the education of their children," Vallini said.

Educators are more worried about "the health and hygiene consequences of sex" than its morality, the Italian Bishops' Conference newspaper, L'Avvenire, editorialized.

Keplero headmaster Antonio Panaccione said condom distribution is only part of its sex education curriculum. About 860 students ages 15-19 attend Keplero at two locations, one in a lower-middle class neighborhood and one in a blue-collar area. The school's move to break the taboo against condom use reportedly was made to address rising HIV cases among young people.

Italian girls sexually debut at age 16 on average, according to SIGO, an Italian group of gynecologists and obstetricians. Nearly four in 10 have unprotected sex their first time.

"This is not about stimulating the use of condoms or intercourse," Panaccione said. "On the contrary, it's about prevention and education." Panaccione also criticized the "duplicity and reluctance of many families, which to this day still look the other way. To them this is a dogma: One must not talk about it, only do it secretly!"

Back to other news for March 2010

Adapted from:
Associated Press
03.12.2010; Alessandro Rizzo

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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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