Originally published on Advocate.com June 12 2004 12:00 AM ET
The regional government of Catalonia in northeastern Spain has decided to defy Catholic Church policy and put condom vending machines in regional schools, The [London] Guardian reports. The government officials decided to install the machines after receiving data showing HIV infections rising among young mothers in the region. "We have clear signs that less safe sex is being practiced, as if AIDS were no longer a problem," Marina Geli, Catalonia's director of health, told The Guardian. But Cardinal Alfonso Perez Trujillo, a Vatican official visiting the largely Catholic country, lashed out against the government plans and said condoms play Russian roulette with young people's lives.
The plan to place condom machines in schools also will include a sex-education program. Installation of the vending machines, which will sell condoms at half price, must be approved by a managing committee composed of parents and staff at each school in the region. A similar plan to install condom machines in schools was scuttled a few years ago due to opposition from conservative lawmakers and the Catholic Church.