Brazilian AIDS Program Sends Letter to Catholic Church Concerning Campaign Promoting Condom Use
The director of Brazil's National STD/AIDS Programme on Friday sent an open letter to the Catholic Church criticizing the church's attempts to "squelch" a campaign aimed at promoting condom use to prevent HIV infection, the AP/Miami Herald reports. Dr. Alexandre Grangeiro on Tuesday said that the church's "attempts to discredit" condoms' effectiveness in preventing HIV "could not go unchallenged," according to the AP/Herald. He said, "We don't want to stir up controversy, but when the church tries to shut down discussion about condoms and claims to use scientific criteria to show they don't work, we have to clarify the facts." In the letter, Grangeiro said, "The church is wrong to insist that condoms don't protect and could be committing one more crime against humanity." Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo, president of the Brazilian Bishops Council, said in a statement that the government's concerns about HIV/AIDS are "commendable," but "it doesn't appear that the method it is using is adequate. Scientific research shows that there is a significant percentage of [HIV] infection, even with the use of condoms" (AP/Miami Herald, 12/10). Church leaders have said that abstinence and fidelity within marriage are the "best ways" to fight the disease, according to the Associated Press. Currently, more than 80% of Brazil's 178 million people report being Catholic, and 600,000 Brazilians are HIV-positive (Associated Press, 12/9). In addition to prevention campaigns, Brazil's AIDS program, which is considered to be one of the most progressive in the world, manufactures and distributes generic versions of antiretroviral drugs, ignoring patents issued before 1997 when Brazil signed an intellectual property law in order to join the World Trade Organization (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.