HIV Prevention Campaign Promoting Condom Use Among Chilean Youth Sparks Debate Among Politicians, Catholic Church
A new government-sponsored campaign in Chile promoting condom use among youth in an effort to reduce the spread of HIV in the country has "provoked the ire" of the Roman Catholic Church and some conservative political parties, the Miami Herald reports. According to the Herald, the $1 million campaign exclusively focuses on condom use and "makes no mention of abstinence" as an HIV prevention method. The campaign has initiated a debate in the predominately Catholic country about contraception, sexuality and homosexual rights, the Herald reports. The awareness campaign, which was launched in early November, features the slogan, "I take care of my life; condoms always." It includes two television advertisements, three radio spots and three posters that will be displayed nationwide. Chilean Health Minister Maria Soledad Barria said the campaign was designed to target Chileans under age 30 because most new HIV cases occur among people under age 24. According to a 2004 government survey, most Chileans become sexually active at age 16 or 17. The survey also found that about 35% of young people reported using a condom during their first sexual encounter and that 52% of respondents reported never having used a condom. Members of Chile's Christian Democratic Party issued a "harsh rebuke" of the campaign, the Herald reports. Lawmakers Carlos Olivares and Eduardo Diaz said the campaign is 'incomplete, uninformed and ideologically flawed," adding that it might promote promiscuity among teenagers. Official figures indicate that 14,820 people in Chile are HIV-positive, but health officials say as many as 50,000 Chileans could be living with the virus (Crooks, Miami Herald, 11/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.