Brazil's health ministry plans to distribute 3.4 million condoms to high school students in five cities as part of a program to combat teen pregnancies and AIDS. "One of the reasons which has convinced the health ministry to guarantee access to condoms for the school population is the high number [of] adolescent pregnancies and the increase in the number of AIDS cases among young people in the 13-19 age range," the ministry said in a statement. The program intends to provide roughly 105,000 sexually active students with up to eight condoms a month through July 2004. A second phase of the initiative hopes to reach 2.6 million students by 2006.
Brazil has one of the most successful AIDS programs in the world, offering HIV antiretroviral drugs free of charge to anyone who needs them. Though Brazil is the nation with the largest number of Catholics in the world, condom use is generally accepted by the population.