Brazil Officials Say Condom Distribution Effective Part of HIV Prevention Campaign; Church Officials Criticize Policy
Brazil's Ministry of Health on Monday said that sex education and condom distribution are effective parts of the country's HIV prevention efforts after Roman Catholic church officials criticized the policy, the AP/Pravda.ru reports. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva last week said that sex education is the most effective method to prevent the spread of HIV and teenage pregnancy. Thirty percent of Brazilian girls ages 15 to 17 leave school because of pregnancy, Silva said, adding that sex education could help solve the problem. Educating people about the risks of sex also can combat the spread of HIV, Silva said. Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo, president of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops, said, "The use of the condom encourages people to have inconsequential and irresponsible sex," adding, "We cannot agree with the use of the condom." Some health experts have said the country's sex education and condom distribution programs have helped control the spread of HIV in Brazil. The World Bank in 1990 estimated that about 1.2 million people in Brazil would be HIV-positive by 2000; however, about 600,000 people in the country currently are estimated to be living with HIV, the AP/Pravda.ru reports. In a statement issued Monday in response to comments from church officials, Mariangela Simao, head of the health ministry's HIV/AIDS program, said that the "government cannot base its public health policies on moral and religious principles," adding, "Promoting the use of condoms is and will continue being one of the main pillars of Brazil's prevention policy" (Sequera, AP/Pravda.ru, 3/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.