Brazil To Distribute 19.5 Million Condoms During Carnival
Health officials in Brazil on Sunday began distributing millions of condoms ahead of the country's five-day Carnival in an effort to reduce the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, the AP/San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The Ministry of Health plans to distribute about 19.5 million condoms before the end of Carnival on Feb. 6, according to the AP/Union-Tribune.
Health Minister Jose Gomes Temporao during the launch of the condom-distribution program at a cultural center in Rio de Janeiro said the government has to "let society know the importance of prevention." According to a recent health ministry survey, about 80% of young men in the country reported using condoms, compared with 40% of young women.
Church officials in the country, which has the largest Roman Catholic population worldwide, opposed the condom-distribution program, as well as another program in the Brazilian city Recife that will distribute emergency contraception during Carnival. "The church has nothing against having fun during Carnival, but the banalization of human sexuality is something we cannot tolerate," Bishop Antonio Augusto Dias Duarte of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops' Life and Family Commission, said, adding that the programs "will only serve to diminish inhibitions and encourage orgiastic behavior."
About 600,000 Brazilians are living with HIV/AIDS, and about 200,000 have access to antiretroviral drugs, Temporao said (AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/27).